Monday, July 26, 2010

No Burning Man?

The possibility has been there, at the back of my mind, for some time now... with our financial situation so bleak, the thought of going to Burning Man has become less likely and more of a dream, one that we just can't afford to realize right now. But to consider resigning myself to the loss is somehow akin to accepting the mourning process, admitting that you are grieving, and allowing yourself the freedom to experience all the shades of devastation and anger and sadness that accompany the absence of this important, wondrous thing...

Yes, I know, I'm talking about Burning Man, not a person. But it feels like so much more than that. It represents my ability to be the true me that is hiding somewhere beneath the layers of motherhood and responsibility and practicality that sometimes threaten to bury me; it's my chance to reconnect with the playfulness and curiosity and adventure that are part of me and still long to burst free; it's my opportunity to belong to a larger community that accepts me no matter what I look or act like or how much I make (or don't make)... and it is probably my last chance to do so for a long time, if ever.

I feel an aching emptiness to think of not being able to go, which frightens me a bit because it seems like such a small thing-- only one week, after all-- but it means so much more than that. It is imbued with so much meaning that it has grown out of all proportion and come to symbolize the place where I can reconnect with my self, re-focus on my purpose in life, re-energize my sense of hope, and revitalize my relationship with my husband. I know I'm reading too much into it at this point, but I can't seem to help myself. It's going to be very difficult to sit this one out-- but I guess this is simply yet another case of setting aside wants in order to meet needs.

It's just that, in my heart, I think that I need this almost as much as I want it...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Snuggle Time

Daddy love...

Daddy snuggle 07-06-10 (Medium)

And mommy love...

IMG_0586 (Medium)

What can we say? We absolutely adore our son, and who can blame us? He's sweet, curious, funny, adventurous, affectionate, energetic, independent, persistent, and enjoys life to the fullest. I can't wait to see how he grows up, and feel privileged to be his parent. I'm can't wait to watch his personality develop, and to see the kind of man he becomes. I'm pretty sure he'll be awesome. And handsome, too!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Boy Bed

Ethan on bed-1_06-29-10 (Medium)

We went ahead and bought Ethan a toddler bed-- from a garage sale, of course-- and got it all cleaned and set up in his room. So far, he hasn't slept on it, but it's one of his new favorite play areas. Every time we go in his room, he runs over and throws himself on it, then grabs his stuffed animals and just goes to town.

Ethan on bed-2_06-29-10 (Medium)

That means either throwing down some serious WWF-style body slams, or hurling the poor little things across the room... always followed by tender, affectionate hugs.

Ethan on bed-3_06-29-10 (Medium)

It's hard to believe he's growing up so fast, and is already almost in a toddler bed... Next thing you know, he'll be talking a mile a minute and tying his shoes. Ack! Slow down a minute, kid, and let me enjoy this! I want to be able to cherish that little toddler just a tiny bit longer, before he becomes a boy, then a young man, and then-- but I should stop now, and get back to enjoying him.

Ethan on bed-4_06-29-10 (Medium)

The Little Things

I don't feel like I ask for much. Maybe if you asked someone else, they would tell you differently, but as it is I really don't think I'm that demanding. My expectations are not inordinately high, and I don't have to be swept off my feet by life on a daily basis. Actually, I seem to be the most affected, the most deeply moved, by the little things in life. When someone remembers a like or dislike of mine, for instance, just because they cared enough to note it down mentally when the topic came up. Or when someone does a favor without being asked, just because they know it would make my life a little easier or bring a smile to my face. For example, I had that horrendous dental appointment a couple of weeks ago, and asked my sister to watch the baby while I was gone. When I returned, she had tidied up the living room and vacuumed, all because "I thought you might be in pain when you got back, and would like to have things already cleaned up so that you didn't have to do it with your mouth hurting." It really meant something to me...

Similarly, I don't expect roses and chocolates and expensive dates in order to keep me in love with someone. What would be really romantic would be to see daily proofs of love, in the form of the little things. Things like washing up the dishes that are sitting in the sink, so that I get to wake up to a clean kitchen. Or fixing lunch once in awhile, because it gives me a break from always preparing the meals. Or setting up a "date night" where we just get together and walk around downtown or to a park, so that we can talk and focus on each other for an hour or so without the distraction of the house or work. It certainly doesn't feel like I'm asking a lot; so why does it seem like it? When those little displays of affection, of genuinely thinking about what might make someone else happy, are missing it can leave space for resentment and loneliness to grow, and then it becomes more and more difficult for love and companionship to strengthen. But how to resolve this dilemma is the real question, and one for which I have no answers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I can feel the chasm between us, but I can't find the bridge. I can see the tiny figure standing on the opposite side of this gulf, but they don't seem to be bothered by the distance. I've heard of personal space bubbles, but this is getting ridiculous. Isn't there a way to meet in the middle without infringing upon anyone's need for individuality and autonomy?

My goal is to try to fully understand and live by the words of Kahlil Gibran, who seemed to understand the need for both connection and distance in a relationship.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On Marriage, by Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Ethan's New Pet, E.T.


Okay, so maybe it isn't an animal... it's actually an electric shoulder/neck/back massager that my dad loaned me after watching me crank my entire body every time I wanted to turn my head earlier today. Once Ethan set eyes on it, he decided it was his new pet. And he is having a lot of fun "walking" his little guy around on its leash (a.k.a., the power cord) and playing with it. Oh, and apparently it's also fun to try to communicate with it by pressing the little round massage-ball-thingies into your eye sockets.


Ack! Anyway, Ethan loves his new pet, which I dubbed "E.T." because-- well, just look at the thing. Is it not a reincarnation of our beloved extra-terrestrial?


He loves it so much that he tried to bring it with him into his crib at bedtime. Sorry, pal, but since I still can't quite turn my head to the left, that little jewel is staying with me. Thanks for the loan, dad!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So I wake up Monday morning with this huge bruise (complete with raised lump) on my left forearm, and have no idea how it happened. All I know is, it wasn't there on Sunday night.

arm_bruise 07-10 (Medium)

How can you forget something that hits you hard enough to leave a raised bruise? On Monday afternoon I had a visit from Cheryl, a dear friend who lives nearby, and she said it was probably just a mommy bruise. You know, one of those bumps or knocks that you notice when it happens, but then one of a hundred other things happens and sweeps you on into the next moment, and the next, and so on until you just forget it happened at all. We're so busy as moms-- and, well, as women in general-- that we tend to spread ourselves pretty thin while trying to get all of our "to do" list done. We bump our knee on the way to changing the baby or emptying the dishwasher or loading the dryer, and do we remember it ten minutes later? Unless there is significant blood loss, probably not. This just tells me that I need a vacation... or a nanny. Heck, as long as we're dreaming, why not both?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shower Power

Ethan 6-28-10 toothbrush_4 (Medium)

Ethan loves the bath. And the shower. And the faucet, the hose, the water table, and the pool play area. Pretty much anything to do with water, really. He's a merman in disguise! And did I mention that he also loves to brush his teeth? Here he is, figuring out how to balance oh-so-carefully his toothbrush while opening up the toothpaste...
Ethan 6-28-10 toothbrush_3 (Medium)

Getting the toothbrush a little wet with the gentle stream from the showerhead...
Ethan 6-28-10 toothbrush_2 (Medium)

Putting on his toothpaste (not really; he hadn't quite learned how to squeeze out the tube at this point, but since then he has-- so we sadly had to take it away in order to prevent him from sucking down the entire tube all at once)...
Ethan 6-28-10 toothbrush_5 (Medium)

And, finally, it goes straight in the chomper-- success!
Ethan 6-28-10 toothbrush_1 (Medium)

Is this kid brilliant, or what? Now, if only I can keep him this interested in dental hygiene for the rest of his life...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Food: Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

Safeway was having a buy-one-get-one-free deal on organic blueberries the other day, so of course I had to take advantage of the savings. Ethan is learning how to like eating fresh blueberries, but still struggles with the texture issues. So instead, I decided to whip up some blueberry pancakes, complete with ground flax seed to help boost the nutrient content.

blueberry_pancakes (Medium)

They were delicious! And Ethan actually ate them, which is unusual because he typically doesn't eat pancakes or waffles. (Can this really be my child? I absolutely love breakfast food!) After breakfast, I set up a photo shoot with the remainder, and Ethan came outside to watch. He seemed fascinated by the colors in the pancakes...

Ethan berries_07-16-10 (Medium)

But then he grabbed a couple of berries with this look of mischief on his face, and I realized he just wanted to snatch the berries and toss them in the yard. I guess he just donated breakfast to the blue jays living in our trees. Oh, well! At least he's a generous kid, right?

Ethan berries2_07-16-10 (Medium)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Communications: Major

For the past few months, Joel and I have been wondering if Ethan has some sort of speech delay. It's not that he doesn't babble, or coo, or make noises; it's that he just doesn't seem to be able to (or want to?) speak. Every so often, he'd say a word, like "puh" for up, or "dn" for down, but then a week later he'd seem to forget it altogether. He'd use sign language for more, and then a couple of weeks later forget it. Instead, he started doing this weird sound with his mouth closed, and start at a low tone and then bring it up; he sounded like a little dinosaur or bird or something. It was really strange, and I hope hope hope we got it on tape somewhere. We were worried enough that we mentioned it to his pediatrician, and she gave us a questionnaire to fill out and send in for evaluation. After filling it out, we realized that he did seem to be advanced or normal for all other areas except communication-- but we weren't quite ready to send it in to a facility for review. We decided to follow the doctor's advice and give it some time, working with him in the meanwhile to help focus his attention on communicating.

And I guess it's paying off! Just in the past week, his communication skills seem to have blossomed. He started saying "Oh, no..." when things would fall down or when he saw something "wrong" (like Swiper the Fox) on his cartoons. It's the cutest! It starts out high-pitched and then falls to a low, soft tone, almost song-like... adorable. Then he said "ut" for out, as in "Let me outside, mom, so that I can wreak havoc on the backyard." He now has a distinct "up" as opposed to just pronouncing the "p" sound. I think he perfected that one because he was working on "ep" for help, and "ope" for open-- both of which he just started really throwing around in the last few days.

He's back to using his sign for "more", which is nice, and definitely has pointing down to a T, but has also started this new thing where he rubs his fingertips back and forth against his thumb while sort of flicking them up in the air... I have no real idea what it means, but he seems to do it when he wants something. He'll come over and stand in front of me, saying "up" until I lift him, then he'll point into the kitchen until I walk in the right direction, and then out come the fingers. He'll keep it up until I take him to the faucet. It might be that he's just doing the motion that he does in the bathtub-- flipping his fingers back and forth under the faucet to splash the water. Anyway, it's adorable. And I'm so glad we're finally starting to understand each other!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dental Disaster

Just a quick note-- Wednesday morning, just as I walked into the fabric store to buy a replacement "foot" for my sewing machine, I felt something kind of grinding and scratchy in my mouth. I reached up to rub whatever it was off of my front tooth, but guess what? It didn't come off-- it was already gone. "It" was part of my veneer, which had apparently shattered a bit sometime that morning, and finally slid off just then, leaving a narrow triangle of veneer gone from my tooth. Great. Not exactly what I wanted to have happen when I'm sitting here unemployed, without insurance, and with a bank account that basically has enough money for one more month of rent & bills-- and not much else.

I went home and called around to various dentist's offices, where I found out that the entire veneer would have to be replaced, at a cost of $600-900 plus x-rays and exam. Ack! I immediately went online to see if I could qualify for Care Credit, a sort of credit card/credit line for medical, vision, and dental expenses. The whole time I was stressing out, because there would be no way we could pay for the repair without using Care Credit. I'm just not willing to fix my tooth at the cost of paying rent. But, good news: I qualified! I set up the appointment for Wednesday afternoon, and asked my sister to babysit. I even got a cheaper estimate (around $650) for the veneer replacement, and it looked like things were working out, for once... and then I went to the appointment.

The office manager and dentist informed me that because I'd had those two root canals on my front teeth (which had been damaged in my 2003 car accident), I wouldn't be able to do the veneers. Instead, I'd have to do crowns, and on both teeth would be better so that I wouldn't have to just wait for the other tooth's veneer to crack off one day and go through the whole process again. I agreed-- which brought the price up to $1600-- and they got started right there. It was so painful! Even the shots brought me to tears; my hands were shaking for like 10 minutes after the roof-of-the-mouth shot. Then the grinding, and chipping away, and filing... it convinced me that I would not be a very good torture candidate. I would give up anyone or anything if they put me through that kind of stuff without pain relief; I'm just too much of a wuss.

At the end, they asked me to choose the tooth color I wanted, and I had to look in a mirror to see the utter destruction wrought up on my poor front teeth. They looked like they'd been filed down to about one quarter of their usual size, like little posts poking out of my purple, swollen gums... it was horrid. Sorry to be so descriptive, but I literally felt ill to see them like that. I had to put the mirror down and just asked the dentist to choose for me. The last thing she did was make a temporary "bridge" type thing that fit over my little tooth stumps (!!!). When I saw it, I gasped. It looks horrible! Ugly, hideous, disgusting. It's lumpy and misshapen and hardly even looks like teeth at the gumline. Sure, it will pass at a distance if I don't lift my lips past the mid-point on my teeth, but if I smile widely or laugh, it's obvious and just terrible. The worse news came when I got to the front to pay and set up my next appointment-- which wouldn't happen for another two to three WEEKS!!! AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! How am I going to get through it?! I just can't leave the house! Not to mention the painfulness; this is seriously so uncomfortable. Ugh. What a total disaster.

Food: Garlic Bread Pizza

I had some leftovers to get rid of, and decided to throw together a quick lunch with them. It was a lot faster to prepare because I had already pre-chopped some of the ingredients, which is a little trick I learned that makes it much easier to actually use your leftovers. When they stay in the same form they were originally served, you tend to either eat it the exact same way (boring!) or not use them at all. And since I hate to waste food, that doesn't work so well for me.

With the leftover garlic bread loaf, I sliced thin baguettes and removed the garlic butter "pats" from inside. I melted it in the microwave and brushed it onto each thin slice of bread. Then, I topped each slice with shredded cheese, bits of cooked Italian sausage, diced red pepper, diced onion, and sliced olives. Tossed it in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees, and ten minutes later it was perfect. Crispy, not too heavy, and oh-so yummy. Ethan loved it, too! Looks like this concoction will have to go in the recipe folder for future reference. I think it would make a great appetizer, too; they're the perfect size for finger food, and leave no mess at all. And don't they look great?

Garlic Bread Pizza

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bloody Good Mary

On the 4th of July, we brought Ethan over to his abuela's house in Oakdale and then went out for some couple-time in Modesto. We stopped at the Olive Garden to have their delicious Bloody Mary...

Joel BMary 07-04-10 (Medium)

... and then went over to Galaxy Theatre in Riverbank to watch The Last Airbender in 3D. Great movie, with a lot of old school kung fu, an interesting story, and some characters that you can genuinely care about. I'm looking forward to seeing the next show in the series, and hope that M. Night Shyamalan can keep up the standards. The only thing that struck me as odd was that the primary characters are played by white actors, which is strange when the movie is based on an Asian series that is very popular and features Asian characters. Why "whiten" them? Don't we have enough gifted Asian actors around to fill the parts? Is it that they were trying to appeal to a Western/American audience and so felt the need to make the characters appear more Caucasian, more familiar? Hmm... not sure what the reason, but it is one of the only aspects of the film that I can find fault with so far.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Park Peeks

Ethan park peek_07-05-10 (Medium)

Ethan loves going to the park. I've decided to start making the rounds of the Modesto parks, so that he can get a different experience every week and see new kids out there playing, too. The one near us (on Tokay) he enjoys a lot, but I often find it trashed and filthy, even when it's not the result of 4th of July partying. It was also set up so that most of the play equipment is directly in the sun for most of the day. Ugh! Doesn't this city have better planners than that? Wait a second... these are the same people who painted a well-known gang symbol, the "smile now- cry later" drama masks, on the children's playground. Hmmm...

Ethan park_07-05-10 (Medium)

At least he has fun while he's there, I guess. Especially when he's trying to escape from mom!

Ethan park crawl_07-05-10 (Medium)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Trashed Park

So, what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to take some fireworks down to your local neighborhood children's playground, and set them off all over the play equipment? Great idea, Bob!

Park Burns_1

I took Ethan down to the park on Tokay this morning to get a little outdoor play time in before the heat got to be overwhelming, and ended up leaving earlier than I wanted to because the park was so thrashed. The aftermath of a 4th of July "celebration" was everywhere... bits of glass and melted plastic, empty fireworks containers, ash and burnt bits of paper, and tons of cigarette butts. I even found a few large, used bandages laying near the play area for the smaller children; what a lovely surprise that would be for someone's kid to find!

Park Trash_2

The fireworks that they set off on the slide have ruined it; the plastic melted and bucked up the slide so that if anyone goes down it, they could get a nasty scratch.

Park Burns_2

Way to be an upstanding citizen and member of this community, jerks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cactus Attack

CIMG3081 (Medium)

So, Ethan finally discovered that the "cactus garden" so lovingly planted by this home's owners-- not us-- is not quite so beautiful when it's sticking thorns up in your biz. When I turned my back on him to flip the shrimp skewers on the grill, he scooted over to the cactus patch that we've tried to keep him away from for so long and took an incautious step inside. Whoops! I heard his cries of pain, jerked around to face him, and saw him balancing precariously on one leg, with his right hand wrapped around the top part of an aloe cactus, wobbling back and forth and trying not to fall face first into the worst patch of plants this side of the Rockies. I ran over and yanked him up, to find that he had thorns and stickers and cactus needles sticking out of his feet, toes, and hand. ACK!!

By some lucky coincidence, Joel had just that minute arrived home from a computer job, and was able to come in and inject some soothing calmness into the situation, as well as be the one who pulled out the tiniest stickers with tweezers. It was not a pretty scene for a little while, but we finally got most of the stickers out (the deep ones, only a few, will have to work themselves out) and Ethan went back to his normal happy, laughing self. He was even walking around on his feet without any apparent pain within a few minutes. Thank god, because I thought I was going to have a panic attack or a heart attack or (some kind of attack, anyway) when I saw him there, teetering on the edge of the cactus garden. Lucky my kid's a trooper!