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!