Monday, December 31, 2007

The Chaos of Christmas

Christmas is such a jolly time - rude drivers at the mall (including hand gestures), fighting for a parking spot ANYWHERE, crummy weather, long lines, filling out endless Christmas cards, frantic purchases (because I waited too long), pre-a.m. children wake-up time on Christmas (because, you know, it's important to be the first one to see the piles of gifts), desperate anticipation of opening all of the piles of gifts, getting the gifts mixed with the massive piles of wrapping paper debris, accidentally throwing away some of the miniscule pieces of presents that your children have frantically opened, realizing that certain necessary pieces of presents are missing (such as assembly directions and parts) on said gifts making them useless to the owner... sigh.

This is our Christmas. It would not have been so bad, but our home is also under construction, wait, let me re-phrase ... our kitchen is under demolition (or a bomb attack) and our family is sitting in the aftermath of debris, dust, and CLUTTER. We have all new cabinets and appliances nestled happily in our dining room and living room. Our family of 4 humans, 3 cats, and 1 dog live on the couch on the main floor. The basement holds the excess furniture from our dining room, so, like the main floor, it is an unfriendly environment for children. Fortunately, the upstairs is still habitable.

My husband and I would agree that we have probably spent 30% of our time trying to locate things on a regular basis. I'm not talking about the car keys or a wallet (although we misplace those as well). I'm talking about the butter, bread, ANY matching pair of socks, Ginger Snap's pink shoes (missing since deconstruction began), my bra (don't worry I have another one- good thing!), toy cars, stuffed animals, the bagels, the cereal, a knife (any knife), paper, scissors, tape, etc. The list goes on and the above is an example of what we might "lose" in one day. This explains why it takes me 45 minutes to make Lightning's lunch for school.

The construction is only 4 weeks underway, however, we have been without an oven since August 2007 (5 months) and we have never had a dishwasher. I must keep reminding myself to hang tight because (hopefully) this kitchen renovation will be completed by March 2008. The new design is fantastic and it will be oh so user friendly.

Okay, okay, okay. It did not feel as much like Christmas this year due to the alterations in the kitchen, however, I must remember that we have our health, we have each other (fighting, pushing, and time outs included), we have food in our bellies, and warm beds to sleep in. Isn't this enough??? Yes, but I would still like that trip to Europe ... whatever. By this time next year the kitchen renovation will be a distant memory (right?) To you and yours, have a fabulous 2008!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Eat Dead Cow - Vegetarian Anyone?

So, the family is sitting at the dinner table and we are having a REAL dinner: steak, potatoes, salad, and dinner rolls. I am so excited because it is rare that we are 1) all together at the same time, 2) not eating cheese pizza, 3) eating a solid meal with protein, and 4) all in a good mood due to this appetizing meal placed before us. My son, Lightning, who is 5 years old and inquisitive about everything (sometimes to a fault), asks me just after I have taken a large bite of medium rare COW,

"Mommy what kind of meat is steak?"

I respond, "Steak comes from a cow."

He pauses to take this in and asks, "Did they dead this cow?"

I slow my chewing because I know where this is heading. Swallowing hard and taking a drink first, I reply, "Yes, this cow was killed before we bought it in the grocery store."

My daughter, Ginger Snap (who is 3 years old) screeches, "Ewwwww, yuck. This is dead cow?! I don't want to eat this!"

I look at Ginger Snap with understanding and suggest that she focus on her potatoes, which are NOT meat - they are a vegetable.

Lightning follows with, "Did the cow hurt while it was being deaded?"

I look at my husband who raises his eyebrows at me, remains mute, and puts his fork down. He has left the steak and is now eating salad (smart man). I look down at my once appealing steak, that is now a slab of once-alive cow sitting in a pool of reddish brown gravy. I think to myself, someone please help me.

Trying to lessen the blow I say, "I don't know if the cow was hurting. Maybe it just died of old age (my GOD, if this is the case, then I am finished with meat. How is this any better than killing a cow?)"

"Why do cows die? I don't know if I want to eat an old cow. But sometimes they dead, I mean, kill the cow before we eat it, right?"

"Wow Lightning, you are asking really good questions and I am just not sure about the answers. Did you have a good day at school? Were you good today? What did you do outside at recess?"

"Yes. I had a good day. I stayed on green all day and we played tag outside. So, mommy what kind of meat is bacon?"

"Bacon comes from a pig."

My daughter freaks. "I love pigs! I don't want to eat pigs!"

Lightning rationalizes, "So, we eat cows and pigs. Does a pig know it's going to be deaded?"

The dinner conversation continues in this refrain through the entire meal. I have now determined that 1) family dinners are not what they used to be, 2) pizza sounds like a delicious option, and 3) I am now a vegetarian. I can't wait until he asks me where foie gras comes from.

The moral of the story? Eat peanut butter.

Famous Ginger Snap quote: 'There are two girls in my class with the same face. They are not twins mommy, they are sisters.'
Famous Lightning quote: '1600 million years old is older than Dad, right?'

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Handsome Man is Showing Me His WHAT?!!

I swear to God, I don't know why these things happen to me... kind of scary... kind of interesting. My life is full of these bizarre happenings.

So, I'm driving to work. If you live anywhere near Washington, DC or 495, you know that in order to beat traffic, you leave earlier than anyone has a right to be awake. However, everyone has this same mentality and we all find ourselves on I-95 at 6:20am driving with a gajillion other cars. The sun is just rising and I am listening to NPR, drinking my coffee and eating a muffin. Out of the corner of my eye a blue pick up truck is keeping up with me. I look over and there is a good looking man in a business suit smiling at me and I see something else. I squint and he maintains eye contact. OH MY GOD!!!! MY EYES!!!! IT CAN'T BE!!!! I just saw his tallywhacker standing tall peeking above the door. How is it possible I can see IT?! Is he sitting on books? Is that real? Oh my Lord, I can't process ... don't want to see that while I'm eating breakfast... and it gets better. I drive away and HE FOLLOWS ME. He pulls up beside me again (remember all this time we are driving 65-70mph) and holds up a sign that reads, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

What is this? Am I on candid camera? I look at him and shake my head "NO". Now I'm getting angry. Who does he think he is? I try to slow down so I can get his license plate but he takes off. Then it's over. What just happened? Am I flattered or disgusted? Is he going to a job or is his job finding women alone in their cars on a highway and jingling body parts out of a window?

What's the moral of the story? Listen to your mom and leave your clothes on.

Anyone have a similar story? No, I didn't think so. There are many more stories to share with you, so stay tuned.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm In Kindergarten - Again

My son just entered Kindergarten, and by virtue of being his (stay at home) mom, I have, too. I thought I might now have a bit of relief from the hustle and bustle of my former part-time Pre -K son and the requests and demands that came with the package. I was wrong. With Kindergarten starting I suddenly found myself being asked to join the PTA, help with the ice cream social, participate in the wrapping paper fund raiser, volunteer in the cafeteria, help as a hostess at functions, assist with bake sales and the holiday bazaar. There are also requests for donations - prizes, magazines, and art supplies. I don't mind all of this "participation" - I can pick and choose what I wish to do, but it is a lot to take in. Additionally, I want Lightning's school experience to be pleasant and memorable. My mom, Juniper, was very involved with my elementary school experience, and it was wonderful.

This new "involvement" includes working with and being around a lot of other MOMS. This means, of course, that there are cliques - flashback to middle school. Every day as Ginger Snap, Lightning, and I walk to school we see swarms of people, mostly moms. Some people walk alone with their kids (like me) but there are many Mommy Clumps.

I thought about whether or not I would want to be a part of a Mommy Clump and the answer is "No". I am happy to remain an Other. Of course there is no guarantee that you will be allowed into the Mommy Clump even if you want to be included. First you have to follow a few unwritten rules. You must have the right clothes, typically some sort of cargo short/pants and pullover "Polo" type shirt. Depending on the Clump, you either wear full makeup or none at all. If you are in full makeup then you must also have salon-styled hair, and a manicure or pedicure. If you wear no makeup, then your hair is typically short and wet, having that "just showered" look. To make the "look" complete, regardless of makeup or no makeup, you must have the all sporty cross trainer walking shoes. A coffee cup in hand is mandatory and you really should be pushing a stroller with at least one child in it. It is important to talk loud and walk slow. Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk mid-conversation and ignoring other people (as they try to walk around the Clump) is also a key to being a part of many of these groups.

If you are an Other then you don't have a clique (and probably no manicure either), but you can hold your own when it comes to wardrobe. In my low rise jeans, Mary Jane's, and vintage t-shirt, I plan to stay an Other (naturally being a Non-Conformist). In a lot of ways, I am living my child's existence with him, at least to a degree. At some point Lightning won't want me to be as involved. Now is a golden opportunity to embrace Lightning's life and do my best to ensure a happy childhood experience and represent him to the best of my ability.

Can you relate?

Famous Lightning quote on the second day of school: 'Mom, there are 5 million kids in my school.'

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Walk With The Peacocks

It's 1994. I have no money, no solid job, no home, no relationship, having just ended a terrible engagement with Mr. Psycho. As I am looking for employment, my Uncle's girlfriend (now his wife, Honeysuckle) let's me take over her apartment. This is fortunate because all I have is my cat, my 1988 Honda Civic wagon, my childhood bed, and a small amount of work clothes. I am so grateful for Honeysuckle's kindness (and her television). I may not have much, I tell myself, but I have my health, a loving cat, a roof over my head, and transportation.

Although the apartment complex is nice, there are a few oddities. There is a lot of noise in the surrounding trees ... cats constantly meowing and I never see them. The weird thing is that my cat is terrified by the noise (not a typical reaction from one cat to another). Another odd thing - within a week of living in the apartment, I had a visitor (a strange visitor). An older, self-proclaimed "biker" came to my apartment and asked for MY HAND IN MARRIAGE - stranger still, he had a ring. I kindly declined and we remained friendly towards each other. About two months later all of my underwear went missing from a community room washing machine. I assume (maybe incorrectly) that Biker Man had them strung up in his apartment (just a suspicion that I did not wish to pursue).

Back to the meowing ... so much noise! I am thinking that this apartment may not be the paradise I am trying to make it. With the little bit of money I make working part-time through a temp agency as I look for full time work, I only have $10/week for food. Therefore, I live solely on canned tuna and potatoes. Man, am I hungry! Due to the recession (at the time), it is hard to find work in my field (architecture). My weight drops to 105 lbs. (note: I am 5'-6"). I look hungry. To take my mind off of my growling stomach, I begin taking long walks on the quiet suburban road behind my apartment building. I find many surprises along the way. The meowing is incessant and blocks out pretty much all other noise. Following the nicely landscaped road, I pass many glamorous new neighborhoods. As I walk I approach a single, large, abandoned two-story house on what looks like 3-4 acres. The house is majestic and I spend a little time admiring it. This is when I notice several small, black and white spotted bunnies peacefully eating grass on the property. They look like pets! Then a cat comes up behind me and scares me by meowing loudly. I turned around to face this audacious cat, and I am shocked to see a PEACOCK! Understand that I am living in an apartment complex in Tampa, Florida, right off of a major road (Dale Mabry). Apparently I surprise the peacock because it gives me an impressive display of its plumage. I stand in awe as five other peacocks meander across the street, not even remotely concerned by the cars slowly trying to pass by.

Then I look around me. I watch as one peacock follows behind a man as he mows the lawn. I see several perched in people's trees and there is one comfortably sitting on top of a Toyota sedan in a driveway. Here is what I found out: The former owners of the majestic, abandoned house once owned all of the surrounding land - roughly 70 acres. Slowly, the owners sold off the land to the now-existing "glamourous neighborhoods". The wealthy land owners had a variety of pets and exotic animals. Upon vacating the property, the owners apparently decided to "free" the rabbits, dogs, cats, and peacocks so they could continue to thrive in what was always their home. It makes a great story.

My life did not get easier while I lived in the apartment, but being surrounded by surprising beauty and animals provided me with a certain "calm." Who else do you know that can say, "I took many walks with the peacocks?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Girlfriend Is Just Not That Into Me

So, you called her again and left yet another message. It's the same pattern - scheduled playdates cancelled, voice messages left with no response, unanswered emails. You're not giving up on her, though. Eventually she will get back to you, probably.
Why do you like her? Well, she's interesting and she doesn't hound you. She's a little bit distant but that's because she 's really busy, you tell yourself. She doesn't let you "in" - you have to work to get to know her - ask a lot of questions. She fears commitment and that's why you tread lightly. She's just like ... wait a minute ... she's just like a bad boyfriend!

Oh my God! you tell yourself. You just realized that your girlfriend is just 'not that into you'.

What to do? What to do? What a yucky thing to realize - that you aren't that important. It's not that she doesn't like you (you hope), you're just not very high on her priority list. She doesn't have time for you OR she doesn't choose to make time for you. It's hurtful at first. Then you realize that you either stick around and hope for the phone call or move on and let her go (and let her do whatever is so important in her life). It's all so silly, yet we all get into relationships like this sometime in our life and we ultimately question ourselves - what am I doing wrong? Why doesn't she want to do something with me? Is she just being polite when she does call or is she just that busy? I know a couple of people that fit this profile. Now that I have figured out their "story", I get to decide what to do. If nothing else, at least the sense of control brings me a little satisfaction because, really, we are all very busy. Why wait for someone who only wants to be a "Sometime Friend"?

Do you know anyone who treats you like the Wednesday night waitress (no names please)? You know - small shift, crummy hours, small tips ... I want to be the Saturday night waitress. I think I am worth it. Comments anyone?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Center of Attention ... I'll pass thank you!

Remember back (way back in my case) when you wanted to be noticed? Maybe you wanted to have certain friends, or you wanted a special boy or girl to "see" you. Or, as in my case, I wanted to impress a teacher with my writing or art ability. You wanted to be accepted, appreciated, and approved of by others. To do this meant that you might end up in the spotlight.

Then you're finished with school and you've moved on to the difficult (at least in my case) task of finding a job. Once again, you must strive to be the center of attention - to stand out amongst your peers. I basked in all of those moments.

Fast forward 10-15 years and two children:

The idea of being the center of attention takes on a new meaning - one that I don't wish to be a part of - let me explain...

On a sunny in Maryland, I am happily part of a mass of moms converging on a large playground. I blend nicely with the crowd - yeah! At this time Lightning is 4.5 years old and Gingersnap is 2.5 years old. I have a stroller and all the necessary snacks, water bottles, juice boxes, cell phone, car keys, and changes of clothes. I feel good, secure, and confident. This will be a fun stop. We are 15 minutes into our playground visit when I see my daughter break away from the pack. I was worried this would happen. As I start jogging toward her, Lightning joins me. I call out to Ginger Snap to "stop" at which point she starts running faster (toward the busy street). She looks over her shoulder and laughs. No longer am I part of the pack - I now (sadly) fit into the elite few moms who always find themselves in the center of attention.

You see, to be the center of attention as a mom usually means that you have children that put you on this "pedestal" - temper tantrums, the elusive child making a dash for what she/he defines as freedom (the street, a parking lot, the interior of a store), the falls (off of furniture, at playgrounds, down stairs), the child playing hide and seek in Target - and getting lost.

My children are my love, my life, and my source of inspiration. They are also my source of exhaustion. Are you the center of attention or do your children take center stage?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Model Behavior

Courage - noun. the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; quality of being fearless or brave.

Who wants to be a model - you know, catwalk and all that? I did, at least, while I was in my sophomore year at the University of Florida. Being 5'-6" and 100lbs. isn't going to cut it, at least, that's what I thought ...

Walking across the college campus, a fuschia flier caught my eye on a bulletin board - BSU Presents: A Fall Fashion Show. Tryouts were being held two days later on a Friday night in an on-campus auditorium. I jotted the info down and ran to class. What good luck, I thought. There didn't appear to be any restrictions on height - hooray!

I didn't tell anybody (including my sister) for fear that I would jinx the whole situation. Strutting out of my dorm room on Friday night, I felt pretty sassy - black pants, super high heels, sexy shirt, lots of big hair (this was the '90's), and full make up. I hope I am selected, I think to myself as I approach the auditorium door. I open the door with sweaty palms and enter the room. The door creaks and 1,000 people turn to look at me.

Uh oh, I must be in the wrong place, as I look back at a room of African American men and women. A man on stage smiles and says, "Are you here for the fashion show audition?"

It's at this point that I realize BSU does NOT stand for Boston State University, it stands for Black Student Union. Okay, so a little insight about me, I am not one to shy away from uncomfortable or nerve racking situations. In some ways, I am drawn to them. Put me on an empty dance floor and watch me shine.

"Yes, I am here for the audition."

It went very well and the next day I was called and informed that I was officially in the fashion show with roughly 40 other people. We had rehearsals (almost everything involved choreography) five nights a week, four hours a day, for four weeks before the actual show. Ultimately I was selected for the evening gown, swim suit, and dance sequence (because although I was a white girl, apparently I could shake my booty and represent).

About half way through training for the fasion show, I mentioned my "star" status to one of my siblings, Tulip. I asked her not to tell anyone and I received the promise. The night of the show arrived quickly. While I was sitting on the shoulder of Derrell in a miniscule bikini two-piece swimsuit, waiting for the fashion show to start, I thought it would be nice if I knew someone in the audience. The curtain went up slowly. I kept telling myself, embrace your pasty-whiteness because you are the ONLY one (and I think I am reflecting light). I was wrong.

Tulip had secretly invited 30 of our sorority sisters (go Chi Omega!) to support me. As nervous as I was, I was so grateful for Tulip's support. The night progressed in flashes: my swimsuit riding up into the great unknown, tripping, but catching myself in my evening gown, "shakin' it" during the Janet Jackson "Miss You Much" dance sequence.

What a great night to remember. Could you do it?

Friday, May 25, 2007

How Do You Talk To Squirrels?

Okay, this is a true story (I have many stories like this). I am driving home from the hotel where I previously worked. It is about midnight. As I turn onto the road I live on, I see a small animal in the middle of the road running toward my car lights. Several thoughts run through my mind - why is an animal in the road running toward my car? Why is the animal not afraid? Is it someones pet? What kind of animal is that?

I don't want to hit this animal so I stop in the middle of the road expecting to see movement away from the car. A few moments pass and nothing happens. With the car still running, I open the door and step out. Much to my surprise, this unknown animal jumps on my right foot and looks up at me expectantly. I am staring into the eyes of a baby squirrel, about the size of a softball. I freeze - don't want to hurt it, scare it, or cause it to bite me. Meanwhile it is still perched on my foot looking up at me with large, innocent eyes. In my "frozen" state I have blocked the road both ways. Minutes pass and a car comes towards me and stops in front of my car. A young man jumps out of his car and calls to me, "What's goin' on?"

I explain the situation to him (the squirrel is still contentedly sitting on my foot). The young man offers to help by placing an extra shirt he has in the car on top of the squirrel in an attempt to gently capture the little guy. I intended to take the squirrel to an animal rescue shelter that caters to exotic animals (I have dropped off other animals in the past). As the young man is approaching my car with the shirt, a woman pulls up behind me, stops, opens her door, and yells, "Looks like there's something interesting happening here. Do you need help with something?"

I explained the situation to her and she said, "You will need a box to transport the squirrel. I have one you can take." At this point the young man has collected Squirrel from my shoe and carried the animal filled "knapsack" to the donated box. I thank everyone, run home to show my husband of my "find", and I head out to the 24 hour animal shelter. I end up home around 1:30am completely satisfied with my interesting night, the kindness of strangers, and the end result of adorable Squirrel. He was released to the the nature preserve after two days of care.

Next up ... a couple of days ago my friend, Sassafras, came across four baby bunnies in her yard (each about the size of half a tennis ball), and she asked me to help capture them. The story ended happily and they too are looking at a life of luxury in the nature preserve.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Surrogate Sisters

I live in Maryland. My parents and siblings live in Florida. If I am lucky, I see my sisters and parents one time per year.

Here's the question: If your family isn't nearby, who are the people you most wish to talk to? Who helps you in times of need?

It has taken me 11 years, but I finally have a second family of surrogate sisters. It was a long process, and I was actually starting to give up hope that I would find these highly desired, elusive friendships ... but it happened! Two and a half years ago I started a playgroup with a girlfriend of mine (Kitty). It was not exclusive - in fact, we encouraged our friends to bring other friends. The result: the playgroup is nine mom's strong and we are dedicated to seeing each other weekly. These women know more about me than most of my family. It's no one's fault, it's just the reality of my life. I also have a handful of wonderful girlfriends outside of the playgroup that I can also trust and confide in.

We help take care of each other, and this is important. Being a mom is hard. Although we love our kids and husbands dearly, no one understands the trials and tribulations of the "job" better than other moms. My friends provide my life with love, laughter, support, a shoulder to cry on, the all-necessary gossip, and kindness. I am grateful for every single one of my "sisters"... you know who you are. Thank you for being my friend and Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It's All About The Party

So, I think I have officially recovered from my son's birthday party. For me, a bit of a perfectionist, I spent the previous three weeks sweating over details such as party theme, game selection (I usually create my own games), how to make the best birthday cake, and who is invited to the party. I let my kids decide what kind of cake they desire and then I put on my thinking cap and make it a reality. Last year my son (Lightning) requested a vanilla, lollipop cake with blue frosting. This year the request was for a lemon, vanilla cake with red frosting and green and yellow lightning bolts.

I am also a fan of large parties. This year we hosted 26 kids... next year the party will be smaller. The weather was dicey - ominous all day but no rain (SO lucky). Lesson learned? Have a back up plan in case rain presents itself at the party.

I am not sure what has changed since I was a child. I can count on one hand the number of parties I attended until I was 10 years old. The parties were always at a home and typically they were small. I don't think I ever received a goodie bag. Times have changed - now it's all about the location, the goodie bags, the decor, and the invitees.

As organized as I was for Lightning's birthday party, I still wasn't prepared for :
1) the fact that there would be a 92% child attendance
2) that the weather might, in fact, work against me
3) that with the 92% child attendance, I also had a 92% adult attendance ... which means there were more than 50 people at our home
4) how much fun a party this size can be
5) how many memories one party can create
6) how wonderful it feels to see your child living this "special day"

In reflection, I spent a lot of money on food, prizes, decorations, and game supplies. I labored for 4 weeks and slept very little (but we know this is nothing new). Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. At some point, my children will not want this kind of party. Until then I plan on spending my April and May months planning birthday parties.

Speaking of which, my daughter is having a birthday party in three weeks... so I better get planning!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Happy Husband Phone Call

So, you're at home with your (fill in the blank with appropriate response)__________ (one, two, three, more? You go girl!) kids and you are in the middle of _________________________ (washing dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, sorting clothes, making beds, putting clothes away, folding clothes, playing with your kids, breaking up a fight) when you get "the call."
Let me preface this by saying I love my husband (and my kiddies) very much and I actually do look forward to hearing from him. It is just that some times I am envious of the freedom he has at work (the ability to finish a cup of coffee, eat not only one meal but possibly TWO, go to the bathroom without spectators (including comments such as "good job mommy").
You answer the phone and ________________________ (the dog barks, the kids start fighting, the cat throws up, you put the dog outside, someone falls down, the dog jumps the fence to chase a rabbit, someone knocks on the door to explain that your crazy dog is running up and down the street, someone is pushed down, someone doesn't "make it" to the bathroom, someone turns off the television, someone screams, all of the above).
Your husband pleasantly asks, "How's it going?" This is the Happy Husband Call. He _______________________ (just finished a successful meeting, had breakfast, had lunch, is bored, is procrastinating, is en route to or from work, met up with a client and ate a tasty meal, FINISHED his morning coffee (while it was still hot), interviewed a potential new hire). He is happy, content, satisfied with his job and himself and he wants to share this "warm, fuzzy" with you. Unfortunately (for him), you didn't drink your coffee (or take a shower for that matter), the kids are screaming at each other - then at you, and the dog gets in on the action and starts barking while chasing one of the cats. You think to yourself "I am angry... how dare he eat that bagel and coffee in solitude ... God forbid he went to the bathroom ALONE... I'm so sorry that you had to spend the whole night in a hotel. Yes, I guess things are pretty normal here." You are prepared to give your two weeks notice (great phrase Staci!)
Ever get a phone call like this? Can you relate?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Identity Crisis

How do you classify children of multicultural families? Something to ponder....

I work for Cultural Care Au Pair as a Local Childcare Coordinator. In this role I have started to befriend the au pairs and host families assigned to me. Recently, our family was invited to a Chinese New Year celebration. The crowd was interesting and multicultural and the food was excellent. Our family (including our kids) had a really nice time, and at the end of the day my husband had a discussion with Lightning (our son who is 4.5 years old). My husband is Chinese and the discussion was about Lightning's ethnicity. The conversation went something like this:

"Lightning did you know that you are both American and Chinese?"
Lightning offers a loud belly laugh and says, "No I'm not! I don't speak Chinese."
"Actually, you are. You know that Mama and Papa are Chinese and so am I. This means that both you and Ginger Snap are part Chinese as well. Both of you are also part American, like mommy."
Lightning pauses to take this bit of information in. Then his face lights up and he says, "Yes, yes, I am Chinese! Daddy listen - azul... I CAN speak Chinese!"

Now it's daddy's turn to laugh.

And so, my son now knows his true identity... or at least most of it. You see, my children are also Dutch (my side of the family). To make things more complicated, although my children are 50% Chinese, we do not celebrate Chinese New Year. However, we DO celebrate the Feast of St. Nick (Dutch Christmas) and the All-American Christmas. Dutch Christmas (we call it "little Christmas") is held on December 6th. So, the month of December is both fun and busy.

So, back to the big question: how do you classify children of multicultural families? In regard to our family I have heard the terms Amerasian and Eurasian. On television a half-Korean, half-American model referred to herself as a "Halfie". Typically on forms, we claim our children to be "Asian/Other". Just for fun, my husband and I decided to create new titles for our children in regard to their ethnicity. Here is what we came up with:

American + Chinese = Americhi
Asian + Dutch = Asdutch
Dutch + Chinese = Duchi
Dutch + Chinese + American = Duchinerican

We finally settled on:
Chinese + American = Chinerican

The truth... our children's ethnicity is not important. The fact is that our children are beautiful, plain and simple and we are lucky to have them.

Any comments?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Is Sleep Really Necessary?

Word of the day: frenetic- adj. frantic; frenzied.
Is sleep really necessary? I have tested this theory, and yes, it does appear that a person needs to sleep. Wouldn't we all be much more productive without sleep? Where some people "hit a wall" at a certain late night time, I seem to keep on being productive (which is why I continue to do it).

I tracked my time last week and I slept an average of 5.5 hours per night (two nights I slept less than 4 hours). It must be mentioned that even though I LOVE to sleep, it appears that I enjoy being awake even more. A typical day consists of waking up around 8 AM (unless I run or exercise - then it's around 7 AM), making breakfast, breaking up endless arguments between Ginger Snap (my daughter) and Lightning (my son), doing laundry, washing dishes, and getting dressed. Then we have lunch and I rush Lightning off to afternoon school. Ginger Snap and I run errands and then we pick up Lightning at 3PM. Usually we have an after school playdate followed by dinner preparation, baths, and a bedtime story. Once the kids are in bed I either clean up toys, fold more laundry, wash more dishes, write bills, balance the checkbook, work on my picture book manuscript (did I mention that I'm trying to write a book?), create a new post for my Blog, or spend time on my job. Yes, I also work full-time for an au pair company, Cultural Care Au Pair, as a Local Childcare Coordinator. It is my responsibility to stay in touch with my au pairs and my families, meet monthly with the au pairs, organize host family events, and maintain State Department Regulations. So, I am quite busy. It's easy to see why I stay up late, and often, my husband stays up with me. We usually go to bed around 2 AM.

What is my point? Well, I don't think there necessarily is a point. I am tired and it is my own fault.

A funny thing about lack of sleep - it makes you stupid which can be funny (in hindsight). Over the past weekend my husband and I painted the living room. The color which we thought was a "rich yellow" in the can, looked a lot like a banana, or a pineapple, or a sports car, or the sun, or a canary, or the McDonald's arches on the walls. So on Monday a girlfriend of mine (who knew about our painting woes) asked me how the 'painting was going'. Working with 3.75 hours of sleep, I desperately tried to remember which painting I was working on -a portrait? an abstract? I don't remember what I said, but the look on her face indicated that my answer made no sense. Needless to say, I felt like a huge dork.

Do other people stay up late? How much sleep do you get? I wish I was more productive during the day... sigh :-).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Odd Nicknames

So I am attempting to find an interesting, catchy name to use for my blog. I was thinking about this tonight while I was weeding in the dark (yes, I was the oddball outside in the front yard with the hedge trimmer at 8:15pm attempting to shape the butterfly bush - wonder how it looks in the daylight...hmmm). As you get to know me you will realize that there are certain characteristics, if you will, about me. One noticeable characteristic is that I am always moving, working, cleaning, tending to kids, folding laundry, writing bills, working on manuscripts, washing dishes, exercising. I am always in motion, so the fact that I was outside doing yard work well after dark should really come as no surprise to those of you who know me... I'm quirky.

Okay, back to the name dilemma. Back in high school there was a short time when I acquired the lovely nickname "Hooker". Let me explain. I am left handed and could play stick ball pretty well. I was notorious for hitting balls down the first base line and into right field, "hooking the ball" as it was put. Fortunately, this nickname was short lived. Let's see there was "Casper" and "Pasty White Chick" from my sorority sisters - no harm intended because it was true. I was the WHITEST girl attending University of Florida. This was pointed out to me very clearly when a car full of hot guys drove by me one hot, balmy day. I didn't have time to primp before one of them leaned out of the car, pointed at me and yelled, "GET A TAN!" I knew then, that I would take pride in my "pasty-whiteness". I found out right before college graduation that the guys who lived at the other end of my dorm had tagged me the "Butt Lady" due to a healthy posterior (I take pride in that nickname).

This brings me to the nickname that I have chosen... Bunny. Somewhere around every 6 years (haven't done the math), my birthday falls on Easter weekend. This year, in fact, I have an Easter birthday. In my Senior year of high school I picked up the nickname and it stuck for the latter part of school. I like the connotation... bunnies are kind, gentle, and make you think of spring and life starting anew. Since the creation of this blog is a new venture for me, I feel this nickname is appropriate. Any interesting nicknames out there?