Monday, January 28, 2008
I bought Chase a little, blue, plastic toilet in China. It looks like a real toilet, but it is blue. Well, Chase liked it quite a bit, until it was actually time to sit on it. So I thought, maybe she needs a toilet insert - so she can use the big toilet. So we went to Target and she picked out a Dora "Let's Go" potty seat insert. But she won't sit on it.
She will tell me now, when she needs to go to the bathroom, but she won't sit on the potty. So what's holding me back from starting to potty train her?
With another international flight looming in March, I can just picture the fasten seat belt sign "on" while my daughter shrieks "pee pee, pooh pooh!" Going into airplane toilets is hard enough with a baby, I can't imagine doing it with a toddler that is just learning to use the bathroom.
For the first time in four years, we actually have all of our art up, our furniture out, and our various bits and pieces that we've collected over the years - unpacked. And it feels great. It feels like home. It feels like a place I never want to leave, but don't want to be my whole life (I know, it's complicated, and bless Hubs, he "gets it.")
The house, which I was initially on the fence about (only because we bought it after looking at houses for two days), is really such a gem. Despite the fact I wish it was just a little bigger - and that we had just a little more land (like enough to have goats and chickens for Chase - or at least a proper length for lawn bowls or croquet), it is quite comfortable.
But, despite our best efforts, we have more dog doo in the backyard than will fit in a normal trash can. Why have we let so much accumulate out back? Because every time it snowed, the poo was covered. And yes, it took too much motivation to go outside and "hunt" for it. Not to mention, we have better things to do.
So we're getting a fence put in to confine the dog doodles to one area of the yard. It will actually be a good size run, so Taggart will not really be confined. This will allow for us to get our backyard in working order - and ensure that when we have friends over we don't have to scream, "watch out for doodles." Now we just have to motivate to go above and beyond and instead of just sliding the glass door - we'll have to walk him out to his run. That is, until we renovate the kitchen, which is now scheduled for August.
What else? Well, only because I'm here all the time. I happened to notice the entire house is painted yellow inside. Except the bedrooms. And while I have always liked yellow, I find myself needing more color. Deeper, darker, more intense colors. So that will be my new project, come Summer (when I can open windows).
All in all, the house is fabulous.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Like four years.
Yes, that's right.
And so I decided to start inviting people over to dinner.
I thought it would be easy, but instead I've found it a bit more difficult than I remember it. Maybe it's because I now have to cook for toddlers, too? Or maybe it's because we don't have an oven that works? Or maybe it's because I don't believe in microwaves? (my aunt told me they were bad, I didn't believe her, and then I did some research and found they alter the composition of food, significantly decrease nutrition levels and introduce toxins to the body) Plus, I have to learn how to cook at high altitude!
So long story short, everything has to be done stove top or in a crock pot or on the BBQ - and I still have very little idea as to how long things actually have to cook here. Even though water boils sooner, it takes meat longer to cook.
So what have I learned?
First the kid stuff:
1) You've got to take the kids meal as seriously as the adult meal. Only it's a different kind of serious. You have to make it nutritious, but "fun." I definitely didn't make the kids meals fun enough. The mac and cheese, that I thought would surely be a hit, was way over-cooked (thanks high-altitude) - all three times I made it (for the record, I don't have a great track record of cooking things out of boxes).
2) You've got to have "cool" drinks. Like Vanilla milk (organic) - and definitely a hit. And cool things to drink out of - the latest/greatest are Elmo plastic cups with lids. I hate them. But they are convenient and Chase LOVES them.
3) It's a good idea to have activity stations. And even though TV is NOT GOOD FOR KIDS, I have to say it really worked well to feed the kids first and then put Little Einsteins in and let the kids watch while the adults sat down at the dinner table. I thought the TV idea would be met with "what? put them in front of TV?" but instead, the adults were all like, "yah, that's a great idea."
4) Toothpicks (aka funpicks). Kids love 'em! And I lost my box. So I was fresh outta fun picks.
Now on to adults:
1) Don't plan anything too fancy (that requires any work while your guests are there). Do all prep work in advance so you can spend time talking and watching/playing with kids.
2) Don't expect your guests (or yourself) to be able to sit down at a certain time (this led to one of my meals becoming cold before we ate). So covered dishes are a must. I made the mistake of serving plates and that just didn't work well at all.
3) Don't worry about courses. Your guests are just happy to be "out."
4) Dessert. Might be best served in the living room where you can play/observe the kids. Same goes for apps.
All my secrets are out!
And when I was preggers with Chase I could not get enough of it.
I craved the heat. So much so, I always needed an extra bowl of chilies.
I would even put Tabasco on pizza.
So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Chase's new favorite jelly is Jalapeño Blueberry. I'm not kidding. She loves it on crackers or whole wheat mini beagles. It cracks me up.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Nana Cris is coming out this week. We can't wait to see her.
Then, in mid-February, NeeNee KarKar and Poppa Joe will be here.
Then, in late February, we're off to London and Scotland to celebrate Chase's 2nd birthday (Oh, and Brian might just sneak in a game of rugby with his mates from school).
Then, we have March to re-acclimate to this time zone, before heading down South to Mississippi.
Hopefully in May we can visit my Grandparents in Baltimore (fingers crossed!).
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Okay, so he didn't actually invite us - his mom did.
Back story: We met them at the library when we first moved to Denver, and I immediately felt grateful to know them. As I meet more and more moms, I feel so blessed to have so many different parenting styles to learn from. Linus's mom favors books to TV, organic to non-organic, outdoor to indoor activities and is all about being there for Linus - every minute of every day. She has, perhaps, the closest parenting style to mine.
Here's Linus ... Isn't he cute?
Okay, so the place was MASSIVE. There was an entire floor dedicated to kiddos.
Chase stayed VERY close to me (aka in my arms) for most of the morning. She did make a few exceptions. Like when she wanted to pat the bunny...
And look at the cows...
And play with the sheep, goats and pigs...
Okay, so this part was hilarious. They had a corner of the building fenced off with goats, pigs, lamas and lambs all running about. The kids could spend as much time petting the animals as they wanted. It was brilliant. We would have stayed longer, but my allergies gave me a clear signal it was time to go. (Maybe I'll ask Dada to take her back this weekend - she LOVED it).
And we had to stop to try on hats... (okay, bad picture, but I had to act quickly -she was moving faster than a top)...
All in all it was a good morning. She was exhausted (as was I) by noon. But somehow soldiered through until 4:30 p.m. (queen o' no naps).
But I tell you what, if it was feasible to own a farm where she could run free and play with sheep, pigs and goats, I would do it!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
So we parked ourselves at the bar and "people watched." We met a little man, who played soccer with Manchester United (for one month) before he was sent home. We saw two women who were probably in their late 40s, who had so much work done there were only tiny lines that could tell who they once were. They both had massive, bee-stung lips that almost touched their nose.
Oh, and the sushi was - UNBELIEVABLE.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I've contacted my family and I'm pretty sure I can find SOMEONE to plant it in Oregon.
The trick is - how to get it there.
My uncle, who works for the Department of Environmental Quality has indicated he thinks it will take more carbon to get the tree to Oregon, than the tree can consume once it's planted. Hmmm.
Maybe if I sent it to Oregon with a Diesel truck driver?
Friday, January 18, 2008
Elmo is so red and so NOW.
A close second is anything having anything to do with June, Leo, Quincy and Annie (Little Einsteins) ... or Winnie-the-Pooh. And Dora has somehow managed to stay popular.
Yes, we're starting Chase early on the property ladder.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Hubs took the Volvo to the mountain - and the sunroof shattered while he was driving. I went to use our truck, only to find the front tire was flat - too flat to drive. And so I decided to take out our little ooh la la hot & spicy sports car, which as soon as I turned it on, it made a high pitched screeching sound (luckily it was only the heating fan).
So this week will be all about fixing cars.
Friday, January 11, 2008
So I went to Home Depot, the place where I bought this tree, and spoke to the customer service folks there. Here's how it went...
"I bought a live tree from you that is not zoned to be planted in Colorado." - me
"Did we have it inside the building or outside when you bought it?" - HD customer service
"Inside." - me
"Well that's because it's supposed to be an indoor plant." - HD
"I find that highly unlikely. It's supposed to grow to be 70 feet tall. You can't HONESTLY tell me that it is meant to be an indoor plant." - me
"Do you have your receipt?" - HD
"No. I thought I was going to plant it outside." - me
"You could always return it and then we will probably just throw it away." - HD
"Well that kind of goes against the whole concept of buying a tree so that I can plant it. I mean doesn't it seem a little strange that you would sell a live tree that can't be planted in this state?" - me
"I don't know what else to say, except you could return it to us." - HD
"Can't you send it to another Home Depot in another state where it could actually be planted?" - me
"No. We don't exchange live goods with other stores." - HD
"Well that's just great. Thanks so much." - me
"Have a good day." - HD
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Well, the re-homing process has turned out to be quite difficult. I called the Denver tree planting group - they won't take it because it isn't one of the trees they are allowed to plant.
So I called the Denver Botanical Gardens. I have not heard back from them.
So then I did some research. Turns out the Mayor of Denver is looking to plant 1 million trees by 2009. Jackpot, right? Wrong. I haven't heard back from the Mayor's people about my offer to donate a tree to his cause. Hubs thinks they're busy out planting trees and haven't received my voice mail yet. Yah, whatever!
So I'm going to try the Denver Botanical Gardens again - and then the Mayor's office (again!) and if they don't call me back, I might try putting it on eBay.
Thing is, I've gotten a little attached to my tree, and I want Pinola to go to a good home.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
When she sings "baa baa black sheep," in her little, raspy voice, I can't help but imagine her as a toddler lounge singer. Too bad it isn't Halloween, that would make for a great costume.
But seriously, fingers crossed it clears up in the next day or so, or we may need to visit el pediatrician-o.
So: Where to go? London definitely - all our favorite places. Scotland certainly. Haven't been there yet. Must go. Quite interested in Haidrian's Wall, Edinburgh and Loch Ness. All is doable, but it's going to be a real "Go Dogs, Go" kinda trip. And I wonder how to schedule activities (a much larger, heavier Chase will be in tow) and what to pack (last time I forgot socks).
Sunday, January 06, 2008
She can't seem to get enough stickers, so you can imagine my joy when I came across books that come with magnets - they're awesome.
It's a beautiful thing.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Maternal Profiling was recently reported on as one of the new buzzwords of 2007 in the New York Times (and members of MomsRising were credited with introducing this term into our national consciousness!). They defined it as:
"Employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. The term has been popularized by members of MomsRising, an advocacy group promoting the rights of mothers in the workplace."
SPREAD THE WORD: Join us in our New Year's resolution to help stamp out Maternal Profiling. Share this term with friends and family by forwarding this email (or by using our easy online tell-a-friend system @ http://salsa.democracyinaction
*Click here to read more about Maternal Profiling, including how it impacts you & comment on our blog: http://www.momsrising.org/node
This new phrase is powerful because it brings forward a shared experience--helping to frame national understanding of the causes of and solutions to discrimination against mothers. Sexual harassment is a phrase which helped spark major legislative and cultural changes. Widespread use of the phrase "Maternal Profiling" can similarly help spark major changes.
And major changes are needed. One recent study found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences. Mothers also face discrimination in their paychecks: Women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, but mothers make only 73 cents to a man's dollar, and single mothers make about 60 cents to a man's dollar. Working together, we can stamp out Maternal Profiling and make our nation more truly family-friendly.
NEED AN EXCITING CONVERSATION STARTER? Use this Pop Quiz as a conversation starter, and as an easy way to share the term with friends (You can test friends over coffee, see if friends can make their own wacky definitions, and try it out on relatives). The more people who understand and use the word, the faster we'll be able to stop the practice. Let's get rid of it!
Have a very Happy New Year!
- Mary, Cooper, Kristin, Joan, Nanette, Donna, Anita, Katie
-------So what is Maternal Profiling really? And is it happening to you and your friends?------
Sadly, the answer to the second question is, yes, if you're a mother in America, then Maternal Profiling has likely happened to you. Maternal Profiling is a significant and shared problem which negatively impacts vast numbers of women in our nation, particularly since a full 82% of American women become mothers by the time they are forty-four years old. And, the workplace impacts of Maternal Profiling are jaw dropping, especially given that three-quarters of American mothers are now in the labor force.
In fact, the American Journal of Sociology recently reported a study which found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences. (Sadly, that wasn't a typo. The study really found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired.)
Mothers also face steep wage hits and unequal wages for equal work. One study found that, with the exact same resume and qualifications, mothers are offered an average of $11,000 LESS than non-mothers for the same upper-level positions. Another study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man's dollar, but mothers make only 73 cents to a man's dollar, and single mothers make about 60 cents to a man's dollar.
Fortunately, we know how to narrow these wage gaps and how to stop Maternal Profiling. Countries with family-friendly policies in place--such as paid family leave after the birth of a child and subsidized childcare--don't have the same degree of maternal wage hits as we do here. That's one of the reasons why MomsRising is fighting for family-friendly policies, as well as for laws that protect mothers and other caregivers from discrimination in the workplace. Cultural change is another way to help stop Maternal Profiling: The more people who become aware of what are often subconscious discriminatory actions, the less often those discriminatory actions will happen. So it's important that as many people as possible learn about the widespread practice of Maternal Profiling.
*Take a moment to help spread the word (literally!) to friends and family by forwarding them our Pop Quiz.
P.S. Don't forget to get more details about Maternal Profiling and share your experiences at the end of that blog by clicking here: http://www.momsrising.org/node
P.P.S. Read the recent New York Times article which includes Maternal Profiling and MomsRising here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12
Friday, January 04, 2008
Maybe it's because we just had a big influx of gifts (thanks Santa). Maybe it's because Hubs and I lived on so little (two duffel bags each) for four years. Or maybe it's because we now we have more STUFF then we know what to do with.
And I don't mean to go all Angelina Jolie, but after living in China, it's hard not to look at the way we live and the things we consume differently.
After seeing the pollution and poverty first hand (it easy to blame the Chinese, when in fact much of it is caused thanks to American demand for more inexpensive crap than you can shake a stick at) and getting to know the Chinese people and culture (both of which I love), I feel so conflicted.
It's hard not to want more - always. It's hard not to want the newest this and the newest that. Why can't we just be happy with what we have?
UGH. I just feel all caught-up in -- and disgusted with -- consumerism at the moment.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
(Warning: Spoilers ahead)
Let me tell you why.
1) It's about Zombies
2) Will Smith watches his wife and daughter die
3) Will Smith has to kill his own dog
4) It's about viral diseases that spread out of control
5) Will Smith has to kill his own dog
6) Will Smith kills himself in the end
7) Will Smith has to kill his own dog
And so we went to this movie, on our "date night" -- and I came away wanting to build a bunker somewhere remote that is completely self-sustaining.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Beth, the author, spent an entire year trying to be a better person. She studied under ten self-help gurus - including Richard Simmons, Franklin Covey and Deepak Chopra. After spending countless hours (not to mention dollars), she came away with a better understanding of herself, but she didn't sound as if she really became a better person. The book, however, sounds utterly entertaining, for people who, um, have time to read.
On the flip side, we spent New Years eve with four other couples (with toddlers) and one proudly announced they were not making any resolutions, which I admire. I admire it because I can't do it. Historically, I have made New Years resolutions in January - try to accomplish them by June - and then make new ones, so that I effectively accomplish two years of resolutions in one year. I know, I know; I need professional help.
So as I sit down to think about what is most important this year, I can't help but reflect on an article I read recently about the 50% League. It's about people who have donated at least 50% of their income or inheritance to charity. (Read: http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/07/29/for_this_club_life_begins_at_50_/)
And although I would love to do that, the planner in me won't let go of the purse strings. I mean, we have to save for retirement, not to mention Chase's education, extra-currics, travel, an apartment in Veil (you get the picture). But I do want to figure out how to give more. If not money, then time and resources.
And on a different, and terribly sad note - that eventually ties back into New Years resolutions - I have actually been overwhelmed by sad, horrible news in the past week. Two different friends have gone to the doctor - and the doctor found "dark spots" - one friend has them near the brain, the other friend has them near the heart. A family member whose cancer was in remission has returned. And two people passed away. One on Christmas eve and the other just before Christmas.
And so on this New Years day, I am just grateful for what I have, for my family and our friends, for my daughter, for our health, for our well-being.
The only resolution that makes sense to me is to enjoy life and live every day to its fullest, to be grateful for what we have and to give to others whenever possible.
(more on the book? http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061143960/Helping_Me_Help_Myself/index.aspx)