Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Amoxicillin

What's Christmas without a little antibiotic?

Yep. That about sums it up.

It's before 7a.m. I'm up and definitely not going back to bed until this Alieve kicks in. Ari and I flew into Detroit last Friday, stayed with friends over the weekend, picked up a pathogen somewhere in there and have been squaring off with it all week. It finally won yesterday (Sascha's first day reunited with us) and we had to take Ari into MedExpress for some antibiotics. Bronchiitis and pink eye for Ari. Wretched sore throat and potential bronchiitis/pink eye for me. Merry Christmas, baby.

Despite intense exhaustion and because I can't sleep without extreme pain, I thought I'd fire up the old blog and sit down with a nice cup of Chamomile (unfortunately, coffee makes my throat feel like hamburger), and record some thoughts.

So here I sit, on The Day, battling oncoming bronchiitis. This Day has the added bonus of landing on a Sunday, the Actual Day (not everyone will understand this and that's okay). Here are some included bonuses...It took two hours last night to bring down a 103 degree fever and, after battling fever all day, Ari's understandably pooped. Last I heard, there's a storm coming in from the West (where the rest of our family is coming from today). And my brother may be stuck in L.A...or Chicago. We're not sure yet. And so, our annual 12/23 Observation and Guinness Glass Lift to Matt may have to be held in Saginaw. Perhaps sans a few family members. Well, poop. As long as they all arrive safely...

Clearly, I'm not thrilled. And to top it off, someone else is living in our house...the one in Ann Arbor. Yes, I am aware that we sold it - and one aspect of selling a home is that a stranger then occupies said home. I get that on a cognitive level...it's just the emotional level that's f-ing me up right now. I made the mistake of doing a drive-by while I was in town last weekend. All the lights were blazing and the shades were open and I could see quite a bit. The new owners painted a hallway. I wasn't too insulted at that, not everyone is as brave with color as I. However, they had the absolute nerve to replace the lovely green glass lampshade in the kitchen. I loved that thing. It was one of the only things we kept after the remodel. Now it's probably wasting away in a recycling center or, God forbid, in the trash. I hate them, the new owners. Just because of that. But it's their house, not mine...even on December 23.

So what does one do? Shed some tears and move ahead. You accept that life changes. The Way I Want Things isn't always going to be and you can't force new circumstances into an old mold. Such is life. You've got to ride with the current or you're going to be left behind, swirling in the rock and sand, bitter and dissapointed. And the last thing I want to be is bitter and dissapointed. This world doesn't really have time or space for that. And rightly so. Dwell, if you must, for a while (and believe me, I did). Muse. Figure it out. Reconfigure. Work your way through it. Bit by bit. But at some point you've gotta just move ahead and say, "Wahoo". "When was the last time you said Wahoo?" (Bonus points if someone comments with the movie from which this quote is taken.)

I hope Matt understands that trekking to Ann Arbor for his Anniversary today is kind of out of the question. I'm sure he does. I hope his family knows that I love them, if The Great Germ Battle prevents me from calling them. I hope today passes peacefully. And I hope everyone else facing a Day this season finds peace as well.

So here's to 2008...it'll be a Wahoo kind of year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Record Waves Today

They've reported up to 19 foot swells today. I guess it's a winter thing. So I headed over to the beach, lucked out with a parking spot, and took some footage. I guess you can't really tell from the video how big they are. Obviously. Just take my word for it. Pretty big.


...okay, the video isn't loading...



here's a picture...

Parenting

Today's highlights...

I haven't had any coffee yet today, not to mention a shower. Ari finally is down for his nap, 2 hours late (postnote: which lasted 40 minutes). The dishwasher is still full from last night's wash. Today's dishes are piled by the sink. Our cooking utensils are strewn on the floor and tucked into various corners throughout the kitchen...Ari's hiding spots. A box of colored pencils has exploded, compliments of Ari, all over the office and the contents of the trash can have been "categorized" on the floor next to the desk. The house smells like a deep fryer from last night's Hannakuh latkes and every window is open. I have a Cheerio stuck to my sock, black handprints on my sweatshirt...and something sticky in my hair. I think it's applesauce.

It's 3:14 p.m.

I'm not sure where things went wrong today. Perhaps it was the lack of early a.m. caffeine or perhaps it was the doughnut (oh scurge of the breakfast world) I ate at the Saturn dealership instead of breakfast. Maybe it was due to stopping at the beach on the way home to see the record winter waves...which threw off our schedule and let Ari get a 20 minute snooze in before his official naptime.

Or maybe it's just Wednesday.

Tired momma that I am, I was going to crash myself after the bugger went down. But I decided to brew a pot (for which I will certainly be up until 2 am) and get some words out instead. Sometimes, when you're drained beyond words...words are what you need to regain your energy. Some of you out there will get that. High five to the writers in the crowd.

Which brings me back to my chosen subject today. Parenting. I am such a novice. Sascha and I are finding that we must actually parent now. It's a verb, parenting. Discipline. Leading by example. Being firm. Trying not to actually yell "stop" at the top of your lungs (at which I failed today). For the first year, our primary job was to keep him alive and try to avoid an attachment disorder that could possibly land him in prison one day. Now, it's pro-active stuff. And he knows how to communicate "no" and use his legs to run away. Exhausting.

Sometimes my breath is knocked out of me when I consider the enormity of the commitment we've made here. I mean, this is forever. This is life. This is another human being with a personality and preferences all his own, dependent upon me 24/7 to care for him and lead the way and make sure he eats his vegetables (which he doesn't). I mentioned this "breath-knocked-out-of-me" phenomena to a dear friend the other day. She has two kids and knows all too well what I'm talking about. She replied to my wonder with, "Yeah, I try not to think about it."

Good choice.

I don't know. Frequently I feel that I'm in over my head (to our dear parents: this is not a call for help, I'm not losing it, it's just random musing). And I know almost every other new parent feels the same way. For example, today I learned that we have a biter on our hands. Lately, if I don't pick up the cat bowls first thing in the morning, Ari's sees fit to quickly and surrepticiously eat any leftover kibble. So, when I see this happen, I go swooping in with the old Mommy Index Finger to rid his baby mouth of said kibble. He HATES this. Gets so mad. Today, he bit back. Just clamped right down on my finger, hard. Then, after I pried my finger out of his mouth, he clamped down on my hand. I still have the mark from that one. What the...? From whom did he learn this??

So. How does one handle this? After an incredibly firm-yellish "no bite" from me, he walked about 4 feet away and hung onto the scratching post (notice a cat theme here) while I stared long and hard at him. Silently. We sat like that for about a minute. Me staring with displeasure. Him whimpering, stepping back and forth over the scratching post and glancing at me every once in a while. Then he started walking towards me...then apparently thought better of it and circled back around to his standoff position. After a moment, he plastered a huge grin on his face and walked over to me with his arms out in hug position. Like Jesus, welcoming a wayward lamb to his fold. I don't know if he was asking for forgiveness or giving it. Still not sure.

So this has been our day. Oy. And I didn't even mention the epic tantrums he's been perfecting. Although I hear from friends that that's pretty normal as well. Ah. One year old. And I thought it was "The Terrible Twos".

I guess that's about it for now. Sascha's home. And I'm taking a Moment for Sanity's Sake to finish my coffee and this blog before we head out for dinner. Yes, I've boycotted cooking tonight. Mom needs a burger and a beer. Let's just see Ari throw Red Robin's macaroni and cheese on the floor for a change. Luckily, he's cute.

Sticky-haired mom, out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blessings

I have never been so happy to be living here.

This morning, due to a scheduling snafoo, I had a half an hour to kill. So I decided to swing by the beach and park by the water to refresh while Ari napped in his car seat. And what do I see in the water as I pull up?

Fins. I saw fins.

"Whatthehellisthat?" asked the ocean-newbie (with sharks on her mind).

Dolphins.

Those fins were attached to dolphins.

Oh. My. God.

I have never seen dolphins in the wild, let alone on a beach 3 miles away from my house, completely void of any commercialism. So this was an amazing experience for me. There were about 8 of them, just lolling in the surf; as if enjoying the morning. A couple of surfers were out there with them; like it was a completely normal thing. I sat on the sand in front of my car and watched for about 15 minutes while the dolphins lazily swam back and forth, bobbing up and down. And then three of them decided it was time to play so they broke from the pack and caught a wave coming in towards shore, bucking and circling.

It was absolutely amazing and life-affirming. Thank you God, for that gift.

(and no, I did not have my camera with me) (darn it)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thankfuls...

I'm waiting for my second pot of coffee this morning to finish brewing. Don't ask what happened to the first. Somehow it ended up tasting like swill - should've known something was amiss when I poured it into my mug and it didn't land in chunks. I like my coffee strong. So, after Ari went down for his nap, I had to give it another go. As I was aiming my little coffee scoop back into the bag for a 5th time I had to stop myself..."Wendy, 12 oz of caffeine is healthy, any more is bordering on obsession." And so, as I wait for my happy elixer to finish creating itself, I thought I'd wish you all a Happy Belated Thanksgiving. And try to update the blog a little.

We returned home yesterday (i.e. San Diego home) from our trip-home-for-the-holiday. Ten days in Michigan starting with two nights with Mom and Dad in Saginaw, then six nights (over Thanksgiving) with Sascha's family in Holland, then two more nights in Saginaw. It was a successful two-legged flight in and out for Ari...the kid totally digs airports and planes...loves everything about'em. Airports (i.e. very busy, happening places), animals and music...those are in his Top 5.


Ari in one of his gifts from Grandma Nana...a kick-ass duck bath. Loved it.

On the animal front...Grandpa Arnie has a very large Rottweiler. He and Ari became quite good friends over the week we spent there. Hell, they became good friends the first night when Ari picked up Rigo's tennis ball and threw it to him. Rigo must have decided that playing "ball" with a one-year-old may be a good time so, after catching the ball, he would roll it back to Ari (I'm not kidding) and Ari would throw it again. This happened over and over and over (repetition seems to be the order of the day lately). By the time we left, Ari had graduated to gently pulling the ball out of Rigo's very large-toothed mouth, holding out his hands to be licked and practically sucked on, and cupping Rigo's muzzle in his hands as if to say "here's a hug you beautiful thing". Below is a video of Ari and Rigo playing ball...it's kid of hard to see Ari sometimes with the sun glare, but you get the idea.


video
When we returned to our home here, we had a breakthrough with the cats....well, one of the cats (Mo) - the other one won't come out from under the bed until Ari's asleep. Ari's been dying to play with Mo since he could crawl. Mo's not too interested. Yesterday, trying to fill a 10-day depletion in attention, Mo tolerated Ari's presence and almost allowed a pet. Then, Mom had an epiphany. Ah, cat treats! I pulled out the treat bag and put one mushy treat into Ari's outstretched, damp little hand. He promptly tried to put it into his mouth. "No, Ari. These are kitty treats." After a quick demonstration, he caught on like gangbusters and started feeding Mo treats. A treat for you, a pet for me. Over and over again. Until I decided Mo had had enough garbage for one day. So, I signaled "Done"...and Ari signaled "More". Damn that sign language. Again, I signaled that we're "Done"...and Ari signaled "More". Crap. Okay ONE more time (you have to hold up the one finger to indicate just ONE). That worked. We had a repeat feeding this morning, which ended abruptly when Ari sneaked a treat into his own mouth. It was a really small one, though. And he hadn't had breakfast yet.

Music was the theme for Grandpa and Grandma Schwarz's house. My mom had the forthought to get some kid music CDs and she and Ari spent a great deal of time "dancing" together. By the time we left, Ari was running to Grandma and holding up his arms so she would dance with him. Very cute.








Helping Mom and Grandma Schwarz make bread.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The wishful napper

Phew. I can't believe we're half-way through November already.

Cripes.

What a prosaic, clicheed comment. I have all of these worthwhile sentences and descriptions of what's going on in our lives built up in my head while I'm driving or walking. I even say them under my breath to hear how they'd sound out loud. So, when it comes time to record them in a blog, what comes out? Nada. None of the little darlings that I etched out while huffing uphill.

However, my own little darling is chatting his heart out in his crib...guess the napping thing just ain't gonna happen today. The Little Crazy...he spends the better part of 15 minutes rubbing his eyes and dramatizing his fatigue...only to perk up and find several topics to discuss when I finally put him down for a snooze. "Oh wait, Mom, did you hear the one about yadda-yadda-yadda? Haahahaaha!" Seriously, he tells jokes like that. Only, it's more like, " Diddidibabyadoyadoyado - ah? Haahahaaha!"

Now he's crying.

Pleaseohpleaseohplease go to sleep. Mom needs a Ari-absent moment. And I need to unload the cat litter from the car. Go. To. Sleep, Oh Fatigued One. There was an Elmo & Oscar the Grouch feature on Sesame Street this morning. I wonder if he took that one to heart.

......a half an hour, one cuddle and a wrestling session later....

I guess Ari's not taking a nap today. Will have to update ya'll later.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown

...and so, to carry on a family tradition, I watched Charlie Brown's Halloween Special tonight with Ari. For those of you "of age", do you remember the holiday "specials"? You know, those holiday-specific cartoons (usually Charlie Brown in nature) that only aired once a year...oh, and The Wizard of Oz at Easter. I think, sometimes, the Smurfs had something...and I think another cartoon may have made the line-up (if you remember any of them, post a comment below - this could be a fun trip down memory lane).

Anyway, I've missed The Great Pumpkin for the last few years. I even taped it one year and never watched it. Sascha doesn't understand/appreciate my tradition so he has no motivation to sit us down in front of the TV (however, he will nag me until I come down and watch "House" with him). So I was bound and determined to watch it with my son this year, while Sascha did the dishes. We made it 20 minutes into the show before Ari climbed into my lap, rubbing his eyes suggestively and burying his face in my shirt with a whimper.

Okay. Time for bed. Now.

Once again, I missed having the entire Charlie Brown experience. Oh well. There's always next year. Maybe we'll even be able to have popcorn.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

one family who refused to evacuate...the dummies

Smoke from the Witch Fire (the one nearest us), taken from our patio at 9am Monday. For more pictures, go to

Hmm, where to begin? It was really (and I mean really) windy Sunday; our virgin introduction to the famed Santa Ana winds . Around noon, I smelled someone's chimney smoke and wondered why on earth someone would be having a cozy fire when it's almost 90 degrees. I went out to the patio to shelter some herbs from the heat and wind and realized that the chimney smoke was obscuring the townhouse across the street. Why is it so smoky? Is there a fire? So we turned on the TV. And discovered that the worst fire season in a long time had begun.

We're new to this whole wildfire thing and weren't really sure how to react. So we didn't, which was probably good...hell, the fires were over 30 miles away. We were concerned for everyone involved, of course, and kept a close eye on the news - had the TV on all day, which solidified a nice TV habit in Ari once again...right after I had broken him of his last one...although, he did get sick of watching the news and flashed the "Done" sign until we turned on PBS for a few minutes.

Monday morning we woke to a lot of smoke and ash...and found our neighbors loading up their cars. Uh-oh. Again, turning to the TV for our fire fix, we found that our area was under mandatory evacuation. Ah, so that's why everyone's packing.




We sit almost exactly on the corner of the evac area so were unsure as to whether we should actually pack up and go (again, fire season newbies...and idiots, as our family members would say). So, we decided to think about it, went to IHOP down the street for breakfast (since I hadn't the foresight to grocery shop over the weekend) and found it full of evacuees from the north/northwest. Rancho Bernardo and Poway, communities 10-15 miles northwest, were on fire (we had looked at homes in this area, it's basically in the city). I was amazed, but most everyone was friendly and open with each other... if stressed and tired. Sadly, we did see one poor family get some bad news while we were there.

The news was informing all that air quality was "moderate to unhealthy" with all the ash and smoke so, still deciding to wait on evacuating, we spent the day inside until it became absolutely necessary to get out (i.e. Ari had cabin fever). So we drove to Pfizer in La Jolla that evening so Sascha could finish up some work. I believe, although my memory is fuzzy now, that the fire was approaching Rancho Santa Fe by then, a luxe community 5-10 miles north/northeast. We had read online that if it reached Rancho Santa Fe, which it was predicted to do, things would be bad...it's heavily wooded. The wind had died down, so we though things should be okay and headed down to very smoky La Jolla (no evac orders there).

On our trip home that night, we decided to pack up the car, check the news every couple hours through the night and be ready to leave within minutes if we had to. We had a couple options of places to go - a friend to the north and Qualcomm Stadium downtown. That night, the fire reached Rancho Santa Fe. And I became increasingly nervous...although Sascha was fine. Huh. But since he was the one getting up through the night, letting me sleep and dream about firefighters rushing us out of the house, I figured I'd go with his interpretation for now. And he was right, it was slowing down, as was the wind, and didn't seem threatening...although evac orders were issued for communities all the way to the ocean.

Tuesday morning dawned with almost clear skies, with persnickety thanks to an ocean wind pushing the smoke back...and possibly circling the fire back around. While Sascha rested, I checked the internet and TV and map (our Lethal 3 combo that had gotten us through our decision to not evacuate) and found that the fire was south of Rancho Santa Fe, had jumped a river (it's very dry here) and was working it's way toward the road separating Rancho Santa Fe/Fairbanks Ranch from Solana Beach/Del Mar Heights/Carmel Valley (that's us).

Oh. Okay.

So once again, we became ready to leave...and received a couple more evacuation invites from friends south of us. It was a tense couple of hours (for me - again, Sascha was fine - whatever) but the winds changed and pushed the Witch fire back to the north/northeast, away from us. Permanently, it seems.

The fires are still raging but getting under control somewhat...they are at least partially contained. And areas are still evacuated. Our area has been lifted and people are coming home. Between the largest two fires that hit the county, almost 300,000 acres have been destroyed; approximately 1500 structures (homes, outbuildings, businesses) are gone; 6 people have died (one directly from the fire); 300,000 people have been evacuated along with at least 2500 horses (there's a lot of horses here). Please know that these are not spot-on, I'm not a reporter. These are just the last figures I read. To give you an idea of what's happened out here. It could have been a lot worse. These firefighters have done a bang up job and they're exhausted. But not finished.

It's funny (not haha funny). I came here a couple months ago with the worst attitude toward San Diego. Hell, I still hated it last week...and I'm sure I will in the future at times. However, this city has very much impressed me with how it has greeted this tragedy. People here reached out to each other. The city was organized and knew what it was doing. People worked together and cooperated. There was no blame-game or finger pointing. It was as if they had been through it before (which they have), have learned from it and know that "you just get through it the best you can"...I think I heard a resident say that on the news. And he's right. When push comes to shove, this city isn't what I thought it was. It's a lot more. And I'm actually proud to be a resident. I'm sorry it took this for me to realize that.

So I've learned a couple things about myself - that and what is important to me. Numero Uno: those two goofy Freiwald boys and two silly cats. When it comes to material things...not much made it into our car. Clothes and baby supplies for two days. Sleeping bags and emergency items. Important documents. Our wedding album and four other small albums. Ari's and my baby books. Sentimental (if not valuable) jewelry. A supply of cat food and litter. My laptop. And the quilts my mom and grandma made. That's it. It didn't even fill up the cargo area. I guess when it comes right down to it, life isn't about the stuff. I knew that. However, it was sort of an object lesson over the past couple days.

Okay, signing out. Sascha's unloading our keepsakes and I should probably help.




Wednesday, October 17, 2007

thoughts

It's been rainy here lately (oh blessings!) and Ari has gotten two mornings of use out of this cute little rain slicker, which I could not pass up while browsing through the resale racks almost a year ago. Yes, a year ago...I have nothing, if not forsight. Buy a rain slicker and then move to a desert. Glad I kept it though because I know Grandma Nana is going to love this picture...something about Sascha prancing around in a similar slicker years and years ago :). Now that Ari is walking, we've been going on actual walks...where he walks too. Granted, these are not like the long, butt-busting-for-mamma walks we used to take (unfortunately, and my tush is starting to bear the signs) - the little guy moves a bit slower than I. Here are some pictures of the nature trail near our townhome. If you look closely, you can see that some San Diego trees do change color. We have some beautiful red and yellow leaves here. Some, mind you. This isn't the Midwest.












Unfortunately, fall is my absolute favorite season in Michigan. So I'm a trifle homesick here in SoCal but the lovely rain and cool weather we've been blessed with the past few days has helped buckets. Funny, the people I've met here keep apologizing for the bad weather lately LOL. I just smile and chuckle to myself, the difference in our ideals doesn't really bother me anymore.

Our family has been busy lately. Ari and my social calendar is filling up. We have playdates now and I have two (count 'em - 2) dates with grownup women tomorrow - one for coffee in the morning and one for dinner (a Moms Night Out event) with a group. Strange, how life changes...in the beginning, you try hard to make friends with girls because boys are gross. Then, you have your girlfriends already so you're trying like mad to make friends with some boys (okay, fine - you're trying to get a boyfriend). Then you get married and have kids and realize you don't have any women friends, at a time when you desparately need them. And so, you're out hunting chicks at playdates and the park. It's a funny kind of dance you do...because you don't want to be friends with just any mom. You don't want the "mommy"...you know, the ones that just live for their kids. You're looking for a little sass and independence in there, too. Maybe someone who accidentally drops the f-bomb when their kids are out of range. You know. Someone like me (although I've vowed to work on cleaning up my language now that Ari's starting to talk), as tacky as that can be.
We're settling in. Slowly. Although, lately I've been battling with the whole how-the-hell-do-I-get-anything-accomplished? demon. Again. It's a battle I never win and never have the sense to simply raise the white flag. Silly me. Some background...our days, like most mothers of little ones, are filled with "minutia"....some people may call it that....other people call it "kid stuff". That's what we do all day. We discover. And we fall and bang heads. Cry. Discover. Follow Mom around and pick things off her dust mop. Discover. Whine to be picked up. We hold and are held. We try to run and fall and bang our head. Again. Walk to the park - SLOWLY. Play, play, play. Nap. Crackers and cheese. Yell at the top of our lungs. I need a hug. So, you get the idea. Ours is not a productive home. And at a time when I'm starting to think of going back to work, with the intense dream of running my own practice - having full knowledge of all the prep, planning and research that entails and having full awareness of my rusty skill set - the lack of productivity at home has me a little panicked. When do I polish my skills? While vaccumming? When do I write my business plan? Answer: after Ari goes to bed and I'm bushed. In all honesty, I should be doing it now when he's napping. However, sharing our lives, here in this blog, with our family seems to take precedent in my heart.

And so....I have been grappling with that. Like I said. Until this morning when I had one of those A-Ha moments. While trying to think of a way to pack all that in (efficiency/productivity/multitasking) and knowing full well that I suck at all of that, a thought occured to me. "Who cares?" And I realized that I was starting to think through the eyes of my child. Efficiency and productivity mean crap to him. He'd much rather wander around the fountain outside Gymboree and wave at the people sweating away in the adult gym next door. They wave back, of course, because he's cute as hell and he knows it. To him, that's a productive day. Discovering flotsam and jetsam on the ground, carrying his "treasure" around and showing it to his Mom every 30 seconds. "See Mom, see what I have?" We try so hard to teach them and show them the way...but sometimes you just have to slow down and learn from your kid. "Yes Ari, I see your treasure, thank you for showing me."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Warning: Long, Catch-Up Post

video

Ari discovered his hair on the plane.
Well, we're back from quite a successful trip to Iowa. Sascha, Ari and I flew to Omaha last Friday morning; met Paula and Jay (my sister and brother in law) at the airport; and all drove together to Grandma's (Ari's Great Grandma) house in Western Iowa. My Grandpa's 90th birthday celebration was Saturday, Sascha and my siblings flew home again on Sunday and Ari and I stayed until Wednesday. It was a good visit and Ari came through it like a champ despite being around lots of adults that he didn't know (anyone he's been away from for over a month is pretty much a stranger again, to my parents' grief). Towards the end of the visit, Ari was enthusiastically "conversing" with my mom and dad...he liked to sit next to my dad during meals and would smile at him until dad looked up and then flashed the "done" sign over and over again until dad did it back...Ari wasn't finished eating...he just wanted to share that little bit of communication with his grandpa. Apparently, the first few times Ari did this in front of him, Dad was pretty amused so Ari thought that was a good way to connect (grin). The last night we were there, Ari sat on the couch with his grandma and decided he needed to "get" her...so she could tickle him. His "getting" consists of smacking someone on the arm or back and then grinning like mad while waiting to be tickled. Our last morning there, Ari finally warmed up to my Grandma and sat on her lap for a while...even cuddled a bit. We were all thrilled, but none so much as my Grandma. She's one of the most wonderful people I know and I'm so glad Ari had a chance to get to know her lap a little.

As you can probably tell, and as most of you are familiar with, Ari takes a bit to warm up to people...especially family members...however, put him on an airplane full of complete strangers and he'll grin at and flirt with every single one of them (from the safety of our seat). The little stinker. It's kind of painful for our families since we don't see them that often anymore and, when we do, it's only for a few golden days. Sigh. Maybe someday that will be different.

Some Updates


On the health front: we are both officially healthy again, in spite of Ari's runny nose (i.e. the snot-nosed kid). It is so fabulous to have the energy and desire to make it through a day upright. Sascha, God bless him, has managed to avoid decrepit health altogether and "dodged-ducked-dived-and dodged" (trivia question: identify that movie) his way through our flu experience with flying colors.

On the What's-Ari-Up-To-Now front: The bugger is a walking crazy man. He's even attempted running after watching a 3 year old do it in a parking lot one evening...the running attempt isn't quite as successful when Mom's not holding his hand. We've been going to Gymboree http://www.gymboreeclasses.com/b2c/customer/programIndex.jsp for a few weeks now and, though I was skeptical at first, Ari has SO enjoyed his time there. His coordination and self-confidence has increased by leaps and bounds from the climbing, exploring, playing and being around other kids. He's getting used to coming and going there and doesn't throw a fit every time we leave now. He's started saying "this, that, there, mumma, daddy, yum yum"...of course, it's all in that baby-way (i.e. "dis-n-dis-n-dat-n-dis" while "reading" me a book or showing me a toy). I'm pretty sure he said "daddy" the other day...it just came out "tchatchy" while reaching for Sascha. "Mommy" is mumumum and we always say "nyum-nyum-nyum" while we eat. Speaking of eating...wow, what a different kid. While in Iowa, he absolutely inhaled food. Pretty much anything as long as it came off of my plate and did NOT come out of a baby food jar. Spoons and forks are making it into his mouth with amazing accuracy and less and less food winds up on the floor (thank God). He does like to "wash" the table when he's pretty much finished eating...that's when the leftover food ends up on the floor. Oh well. Other things - he brushes his teeth and hair, puts things away, kisses his books and toys and daddy's tummy (it's a funny thing). I'll sum it up there as I think only the grandparents are still reading at this point...everyone else, I totally understand if you've decided to jump ship.

On the relocation front: Since I have more energy now, I feel a little better about being here. I'm meeting a fellow Ann Arbor transplant spouse for coffee next week and I met a nice mom at our library's story hour last week...her son practically crawled into my lap so I guess she had to be nice to me after that :). She hooked me up with a couple groups she's involved with - Hip Mamas of San Diego and Del Mar Toddlers. Both have play groups and I think Mom's Night Out/In. We'll see how that goes but I'm feeling more optimistic than I have in past weeks. Sascha still points out other moms when we're at the park...for example, "she's cute, do you think you'd like her?" ....or, after Ari and I have been at Gymboree, "did anyone try to pick you up? any nice moms?" (you notice, he doesn't mention the dads). It's sweet how he wants me to get some mom action but sometimes I always feel as if I need to look pretty or work on my pick-up lines. It'll take time. And that's okay. It's easier to not know anyone when Ari's balanced and happy (as he is this week, we'll see how things go next week). I'm still looking at this San Diego thing as a two-year commitment. A little sabbatical in paradise before heading back to the Midwest. Who knows? Maybe it'll someday feel like home. Time will tell. And I'm cool with that.

*FYI - the walking video is now in the post below*

Thursday, October 4, 2007

red letter day

...that is what it has been. Ari is walking! I was working in the kitchen while he played in the living room this morning and heard him coming through the doorway with a giggle. I turned around and there he was, walking, not crawling. Now, that's not an entirely new thing. He's been walking up to 10 steps on his own for a couple days. However, this morning he walked through the kitchen door as if he had been a toddler forever, grinning like crazy. Sat down and proceeded to stand up on his own (that was a first), walk further, sit down again, get up again, etc. etc. until he had covered the entire kitchen. He giggled the entire time, he was so pleased with himself. It probably helped that I was cheering him on like crazy...

video

He also managed to scoop his oatmeal onto his spoon by himself today and take a few very accurate bites. It's so funny how he knows he's done something special...he gets this little lopsided smile and his eyes tilt up at me as if to say, "hey, ma, ya checkin' this out?" Funny little man.

I'll sum this post up by apologizing for the lack of material lately. It's taken me a while to recover from the flu, still coughing like crazy and losing my voice, and both I and the Little Man have had some rough days...him with whining and me with homesickness. I pledged, since my last rant, to not write here unless I was in a somewhat good mood...hence, several days can go by :). I'd better cut this short, bed calls. Oh, and for those of you who watch the news...no, we did not get caught in the La Jolla landslide...we can't afford to live near La Jolla...but thank you for caring about us. It is a little ironic, though...hmm, not sure "ironic" is the correct word. That same hillside slid down the mountain (along with several homes) around 50 years ago. The city encouraged the residents not to rebuild as that mountain is prone to this condition. Yet, there it is...million dollar homes on a foundation of sand.

Friday, September 28, 2007

by dose id duffed up

...and my throat...and my ears...

That about sums it up from the Land of Sick out here. Lordy. What a couple weeks it's been. If you recall from the birthday post, Ari had been acting rather strange and cranky the week prior to his birthday. Seems he was coming down with Monster Bug. Last week he had his 12 month well visit scheduled with our new pediatrician, which quickly turned into a sick visit as he was sporting a fever, aches and a general I'm-not-happy-do-something-now-ness. Our lovely pediatrician (who, it turns out, isn't quite as open-minded as our Ann Arbor doc when it comes to alternate vaccination schedules) did the requisite examination, which offended Ari no end, and pronounced him with a virus. "There's nothing we can do. Go home. Rest. Plenty of fluids. Motrin." But she said it in a very nice way.

The fever topped off at 103.6 Saturday morning and croup started on Monday followed by another doctor visit on Tuesday. I never thought I'd willingly shoot my kid up with steroids but when she said it would decrease the inflammation of his vocal cords and possibly give us a good night's sleep, Sascha and I proclaimed a unanimous "yes". So we've been in and out of steamy bathrooms to soothe his congestion, pushing Motrin and fluids (to which he royaly turns his nose) and watching way more TV than is healthy for a one year old. He's been getting better pretty much every day and we actually went to the playground yesterday. Hey, he can't quite walk yet but he can still crawl around and get all kinds of dirty...that's fun in itself. On the down side, Ari's developed quite a love affair with the television...

Also on the down side, I have contracted this unnamed virus as well and am currently sampling several cold/flu/sinus drugs on the market trying to find one that actually works and "gives you back your energy", as one well-known (ahem-DayQuil-ahem, excuse me) drug claims. Bullshit. Whomever was taking that crap definitely wasn't a stay at hom mom. "Gives you back your energy", my ass. However, combine the DayQuil with Advil and a little caffeine and you have a rootin'tootin' cocktail.

Better go, Sleeping/Coughing Beauty, calls!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FYI

The walker car video has been updated a few posts below...I hope it has sound...the sound isn't working on my laptop right now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

birthday boy

I cannot believe we've been doing this for a year. In some ways, it seems as if it's been 20 years...in other ways, like we just started doing this last week. Probably symbolic of how a parent feels...20 years older than they actually are...yet still feeling as if they don't know what the hell they're doing. Yep, that's about it. Sascha and I were reflecting a bit ago about the year, itself. It's been kind of a tough one. Ari's start-out was rough for us, we didn't take easily to parenthood (i.e. indentured serventhood), he didn't take easily to life on this planet, then working to get a house ready to sell, finding a place to live out here, moving out here...it's been...full.

And so, Sunday we celebrated Ari's first birthday. This day came on the down end of a 7-day monster-fest-extroardiaire. I don't know if it's a developmental thing - capping off the first year with a weeklong let's-see-if-we-can-get-mom-to-jump-off-a-cliff test - or if Ari was really suffering from some form of sickness. Sascha and I are both leaning towards the latter. The poor little bugger just hasn't been himself.

In that spirit, we gingerly set out Sunday morning to celebrate Birthday #1. We had big (i.e. foolish) plans. Pfizer was hosting a Family Fun Day at the Padres stadium (baseball)...a pasttime we try to never pass up...so we decided to celebrate at the ball park as well. Started the day with a little pre-party present opening, which (of course) called for a nap later. We ended up getting to the stadium about 90 minutes late, but what the hell. Ari had a blast - crawled on the grassy hill outside the stadium and "picnicked" on Cheerios, danced in the stadium to all of the kickin' music, flirted with Sascha's female co-workers. It was a lot of fun for us, as well. For one thing, I got to get out and have some adult conversation for a change. With beer. Not bad. My big social thing for the past month has been the weekly story hour at the San Diego Public Library. They don't serve beer at the library...and you can only sing "teddybear fingers, teddybear toes" so many times before you start to feel a little insanity creeping in around the edges. And so, the ball game was a welcome diversion.

We came home when Ari's meter was reading empty, had a rough afternoon but finally managed to pull it together enough for cake and presents that evening. The cake went over like gangbusters (God Bless Duncan Hines). I've never seen him eat anything new so fast and his attitude immediately changed from "what the hell are you doing to me?" to "dude, rock on". All sugared up and ready to go, he rip-roared through present-opening like a champ and played hard core until it was time for bed. All in all, a good day.

Friday, September 14, 2007

giddyup


Ari's newest thing...playing 'horsey'. If I'm playing on the floor with him, he'll walk around to my back, grab onto my shoulders and pull himself up. Then we'll "gallop" around the house. The horsey gets tired pretty quickly (try this...hold an 18 lb sack of flour on your back...one that wiggles....and then do a little halting trot/run...in circles...for 10 minutes). He also likes to look at himself in the mirror while he's on my back (hence the picture taken in the mirror). I woke up with a weird backache yesterday morning but couldn't figure out why. It hit me later today when I was being "horsey" again. Yes, it's tiring. But it's also awfully cute.


Other new things he's up to (to make up for my self-involved rant yesterday): Standing on his own (not standing UP on his own yet). Walking up to three steps alone. Eating with a fork (loves the fork). Eating from my plate appears to be more fun for him, too. I swear he said "mama" twice yesterday. "Draws" with a pencil on paper...did this on his own without any prompting from me. Is communicating a lot more clearly with us - or maybe we're just getting better at understanding - he tells us when he's done with something, when he wants something, when he's happy that we've done the thing he wants, when he wants to go outside to play...can't remember much else and this list is probably getting a little dull for some of you (grin).


I'll write an update at the end of this weekend. It's Ari's first birthday Sunday and we're going to a Padres game. Should make for an interesting weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

rantings and SOS

Warning: below rant holds no mention if Adorable Ari's development, it is strictly About Me.
By some strange, unknown turn of events, I have become Housewife*. Now, I'm not sure how this has happened. I had never planned on becoming Housewife. And yet. Here it is. Housewives clean (I'm not that organized). Housewives do laundry (this I can do...it just takes three days). Housewives cook. This last point has me completely flummoxed. Which is why I am summoning the spirits, i.e. you guys. Please help. If you have any tips, protocols, processes (I know, I'm turning this into a Vice President position) to make cooking, grocery shopping, meal prep easier...especially if those tips include a way to do it with a whining one year old clinging to your leg throughout the entire ordeal...please pass them on! Any easy-to-prepare recipes, cookbook recommendations, websites... Bear in mind, I really don't know what I'm doing in the kitchen.

Well, I guess I may as well pull out the big guns...if you have any tips on making life easier/more organized with a one year old...running errands, getting work done around the house, having time to yourself (should that ever happen)...please pass that on as well. I used to think I was an organized individual, but becoming Mother has blown that idea right out of the water.

Finally, if I am idealizing this prospect of being "organized" or the idea that it is possible to make the above experiences "easier"...please let me know. It'd be great to know that I am not the only one feeling that life is just a whirl of chaos, dirt, dried-on-the-chin Cheerios, cat hair stuck to almost everything, crying/whining/teething, backaches, and Mommy-clinging-in-the-grocery-store-when-he-doesn't-want-to-ride-in-the-cart. However, if I, God forbid, am the only one going through all of this...would the rest of you-in-the-know please either help me out or help me find a cheap daycare so I can go back to work!

*In using the term Housewife here, the author implies no negative connotation whatsoever. Please do not become angry with the author. The attached frustration is merely due to the fact that said author does not make a good Housewife...or Mother, at times. But she is working on it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

tequila dreams

I just heard from a college friend, with whom I'm really horrible at keeping in touch, that she has a new baby. Now, by sheer coincidence, I was looking through some old photos last week and came across a picture of her doing a tequila shot...with the resulting "ughhh" face close behind. I have dozens of pictures in this genre. Two whole photo albums, in fact. Which begs the question, how on earth did we (and those like us) become mothers? How we made it to motherhood, without severe alcohol poisoning, is beyond me.

And yet...here we are. Joyous. Slippery with sunscreen and slobber. Tearful...or wiping their tears when the ear infection is ouchie beyond words. Which brings me to my next point...

We started our quest to find a new pediatrician out here. I "interviewed" our first doc this week...Filled out three sheets of paperwork while holding onto a squirming Ari, after repeatedly asking the receptionist if this was necessary for a simple consult. Waited 45 minutes for a 15 minute "interview" that turned into an examination (after informing the doc twice that it was a consult) with a $15 copay. Afterwards, I found myself outside on the sidewalk wondering what the heck just happened. Was I just "processed" (I detest being processed). Do doctors not do a quick, no-money-involved consult anymore? All I wanted to do was see if I liked this doctor and/or the clinic for Ari. On the plus side, he found a nicely matured infection festering in Ari's right ear (so that's why he's been grabbing his ear, I had thought it was because of the teething. Mom Radar down, apparently). So now the little bugger's on an antibiotic. Luckily, it tastes of grape.

Otherwise, Ari's week was mostly about the resurrection of toys from patio purgatory. When we moved in, there was just no room to put his big exersaucer and walker-car. So they were relegated to the patio for the time being (i.e. 3 weeks). Hey, it doesn't rain here. No prob, right? Huh. The prob is that the sun beats down like Satan from Hades here (or whatever simile you'd like to employ). We now are the proud owners of a yellow, blue and pink walker car. Ari doesn't seem to mind. After I cleaned them up and brought them inside, you'd think he'd never seen them before. Oh joy. And I unabashedly plopped him in the exersaucer in front of his Baby Einstein DVD three times this week...so I enjoyed them all over again as well. Seriously, though, here's a video of the kid learning how to walk behind his walker car. That was really fun for us and Ari was SO proud. He's learned how to do it on his own now...however, the car's really too big for our living room and keeps getting snagged on furniture...a constant source of irritation for him, which is a little funny for us.
video

Sunday, September 2, 2007

month #1 - down

Well, we've been living in this condo for a full month. And while the passage of time hasn't made me feel much better about leaving home, at least I don't feel much worse. Funny, I never thought of myself as a home-body before but I guess Fate has proven (proved?) me wrong. Or maybe, I had just finally found a place where I felt that I was Home. At the very least, there go all of my jet-set fantasies, right out the window. Goodbye "living in Paris for a year"...goodbye whisking off to Peru. Maybe someday.

On a lighter note, Sascha (God bless him) forced my ass out of the house today and we took a family outing to Coronado. Ever hear of it? Cool small-town-on-an-island in San Diego. I totally dig Coronado. There, we stumbled upon a Labor Day festival in the town square park...kids circling on bicycles, children swinging on the playground, folks dancing the two-step, picnic-ers, and band playing in the pavilion. I was expecting resorts, palm trees and rich people. What I got was middle America 20 miles north of the border. Rock on.

There was ice cream, too. As Sascha so delicately displays below...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

squishy banana thoughts - a tip from Ari's high chair

Raw fruit chunks are too slippery for little fingers to pick up (hell, it's too slippery for my fingers to pick up). Crush up a teething biscuit, cookie, cracker, etc. and roll the fruit around in it. Makes it a lot easier, and less frustration-inducing, to pick up. This also works for those times you've had one too many during dinner and are trying to eat with your fingers.

Huh.

Maybe everyone else already knows this trick.

And here I thought I was finally ahead of the game.

Shucks.

Friday, August 31, 2007

oy vey...ouchies

...what a morning. In order to beat off some post-move blues, I had this sweet (read: naive) little plan to get up, play a little, have breakfast, clean up and then head to the pool. Well, two and a half hours later, Ari was in my arms (for the third time this morning) sobbing over yet another owie. Obviously, I decided to nix the pool idea...with that kind of an a.m. track record, who needs the risk? And it was probably the right thing to do because a half hour after his last accumulated goose-egg, he fell asleep on my shoulder. I guess he just decided the morning was a complete wash and he would try again in the afternoon. Me too, kiddo, me too.

Tally for the past 15 hours:
  • one large, purple goose-egg on his forehead from ramming himself into the edge of his crib last night
  • one, becoming-larger, goose-egg on his eyebrow from falling into his toy box today
  • one nice-looking red impact mark by his ear from same
  • one bruise/bloody scratch combo on his side from slipping off the door of the dishwasher and scraping himself down the corner (I told him to never play on the dishwasher door but does he listen? Noooo....)

...what a shitty mother I feel like at times. But what can I do? The kid has a battering ram for a head. In more ways than one. Sometimes I wonder from whom he inherited his head-strong nature...and then I choose to not think about it. Because it wasn't me. Nope.

And so, no pool to beat off the post-move blues...I'm blues-ing it on my own with a cup of joe and my blog (how ungodly pathetic is that?). But wait, I have a call to return! And so, I will blues it up a little with a good friend. Hopefully (dear God), my next post will be a bit more cheery.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

After Dinner...


...we went for a walk on the beach tonight. That was nice.

New Things

Yesterday, I got lost trying to find the grocery store. Twice. It wasn't really any old grocery store I was trying to find, that one I can simply walk to. No, I was trying to drive to Whole Foods. On my own. For the first time. I was on the phone with Paula while driving into La Jolla, which provided great moral support at first. However, after my second, "Damnit. Well, I *thought* that was it." She asked if it would be easier if she let me go. I agreed that, yes, it probably would since I can, apparently, not multitask in that manner. Ari also took pity on me and fell asleep in the backseat while I wound my way through La Jolla's bumper to bumper traffic at 3:00 in the afternoon. Cripes. In the end, I did find it...after a 40 minute drive. The trip home was snap, though.

On the plus side, today I met my first person who did not give a glowing report of life in San Diego. This requires some background story...upon moving here, we discovered that the water absolutely bites ass (i.e. it's very hard). It clogs pipes, damages anything but chrome finishes, clogs pores, dries out your skin, doesn't clean really well and tastes pretty funky. And so, most people here drink bottled water or have a water refiner. The irony of this does not escape me. We live a 3 mile drive from vast quantities of sparkling, beautiful Pacific Ocean. (Yes, I know it's salt water. But, still...) And, yet, we need to spend inordinate amounts of money on water in order to pleasantly drink it. So, we just blew a whopping $undisclosed.00 to refine our water, joining the masses of crazy Californians who spend money on ridiculous things. Anyhoo...the guy who installed our refiner was my first experience with a realistic and thinking local when it comes to San Diego attitude..."well, there's too many people here and the water sucks, but the weather's nice." Thank you, Rick, for renewing my faith in human intelligence.

***************

On a final note, I am watching the condo across the street get "tented". So they can spray for termites. This gets to happen to us soon, as well. We have termites.

Food and Boo Boos

Monday, 8/27/07 (I'm a day behind on posting this)

We’ve had a productive morning over here. In an attempt to acclimate Ari to the fun of feeding himself, I decided to throw caution to the wind, strip him down and let him have at it with a plastic spoon (which he quickly chucked to the floor) and a pile of cottage cheese on his tray. You’d have thought I handed him a pile of extension cords, he was so happy. Of course, not much of the cheese made it to his mouth after he swipe-swipe-swiped his arm back and forth over the tray. However, the floor and pretty yellow walls soon boasted a lovely smattering of white fleck. I sat down next to him with my oatmeal, feeding him a bit of that and some fruit to make up for the carnage left on the floor. As I was finishing my oatmeal, I noticed how cheesy his hands were…just as he reached up to scratch the back of his head. Now, my son never touches his head – unless he’s in his high chair sporting the grimiest hands you’ve ever seen. What’s that about? After wiping his hands on his hair, he grinned at me and I noticed that he had, after all, been eating some of the cottage cheese. At which point, he blew me a great big, loving raspberry. Cheesy Mommy.

I must say, it’s amazing to watch these little buggers develop into big buggers. Over the past couple days, Ari’s developed a slightly more gourmet palate…meaning, he digs cottage cheese, egg yolk, “banana nuggets” (house recipe) and little bits of flotsam off the floor along with the ubiquitous Cheerios and fruit puffs (i.e. infant junk food). Just recently he’s been initiating his own sippy cup action, lifting it up to his mouth with one hand (frequently with the sippy part jammed into his chest) to get a slurp. Today, he realized he needed two hands in order for it to really work…but only after repeatedly pushing my hands away when I tried to help. Okaaay, hint taken, backing off.

After the feeding cyclone had passed, I mopped him off and set him down to jam with a little Elvis in the living room while I attempted some kitchen clean-up. He laughed, pointed at me, sucked on the CD case and “danced” while I sponged up the floor, myself and the dozen or so items it takes to feed an almost-toddler breakfast. I remember reading, while Ari was in utero, that “babies don’t take up much space”. Ahem. Now, I’m sure these books were trying to tell you that you don’t need a nursery or a fancy play room to have a kid in your life. In fact, you could just “appoint a corner of your bedroom” for the new baby. Bullshit. Our entire home has become BabyVille. “They don’t take up much space”? That’s crap. They take up all the space.

But they also fill it with a lot of laughs, smiles, sloppy hugs and cheesy raspberries…so I guess the swap is worth it in the end.

On the home front, we finally found an arrangement for our living room that works. Thank God, because I’ve been pushing furniture around since we moved in and, frankly, I’m tired. By 11:30 last night, things were looking pretty damn good and I decided that I was going to move one last speaker. This speaker weighs 30 lbs. Big ass speaker. And I dropped it. Wisely, to break the fall and avoid the expense of a damaged floor and broken speaker, I tried to "catch it" with my shin and foot. Bad idea. The speaker weighs 30 lbs (did I mention that?). Immediately, the impact site swelled to a nice egg-shaped lump, enhanced by gash down the middle. I sat down, trying to avoid shock, and got ice on it right away so today it's just slightly swollen but I’m sure it’ll be a lovely shade of purplish yellow in a few days. Should’ve left “well enough” alone…but that’s not really my style.

But the living room looks great.