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Showing posts from July, 2008

Mamma Mia!

There are many things that I love about my husband. He always goes out of his way to do nice things for me like stopping at the bakery for a cinnamon roll just because he was walking by. Or if Vivi and I are on each other's last nerve when he gets home from work he offers to take her on a run-- even though it's 90 degrees, the jogging stroller is heavy, and he is going for 8 miles. He picks up after us. He mows the lawn. He cries at such heartwarming films as "School of Rock." He is a regular renaissance man.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised with my husband suggested that we see Mamma Mia! while out on a hot date last Saturday night. Of course, I was dying to see it. (Nothing like "Dancing Queen" to bring back fond memories of spending every Thursday night during college at our school's disco.) Still, somewhat incredulously I asked, "Do you really want to see that?" He assured me that he did so off we went.

We had so much fun and f…

Beets, Beets, Wonderful Beets

My husband came home from the farmer's market last weekend with a truckload of beets. When I asked him why he had bought so many beets, he calmly replied, "It was buy one ton, get one ton free and I thought that was a good deal." And I thought I was the bargain shopper in the family...

After giving up on most Central Asian delicacies (mutton, anyone?), I grew to love beets. There's nothing like living in the former Soviet Union to precipitate a fondness for beets but what was I going to do with all of these? Even I didn't know if I could stomach that many.

I started off by making a gallon of Vinograd which is a Russian salad consisting of beets, potatoes, white beans, onions, dill, and pickles. I know. Right now you are thinking that I would need to pay you a million rubles to give this salad a try but trust me, fair reader, it's actually quite good. I thought I'd shot my wad on the salad though so I turned to the Internet for some beet inspiration. That is…

Summer Bummer

I know this sounds blasphemous but I am really not that crazy about summer. I hate the heat and the humidity and every summer day seems to end with me feeling sweaty, tired, and cranky. I hate having to slather my and Vivi's fair skin with sunscreen or make sure we have hats on even though it's too bloody hot for hats. I'm no fan of winter either but summer seems to have edged it out as my least favorite season.
When I was a kid growing up in Vermont, I loved summer and all that it meant: the break from school, setting up a tent in our backyard, playing outside ALL DAY. Of course, I remember feeling bored sometimes but I don't recall ever feeling like I just couldn't wait for the heat to pass.
Now, as an adult, I don't feel like my life has slowed to a summer pace. I feel like I have as many responsibilities as I have the rest of the year except now I am doing them without central air. (Despite what W and his cronies all say, I really don't remember…

Made in China

I admit that I have a prejudice against things made in China. If it's food, it is probably tainted with anti-freeze and if it's a toy, it almost certainly contains lead paint or phthalates ready to wreck my kid's reproductive organs. It's not rational but as a woman who is trying to be a good mom AND do the job of the FDA, I cling to these ideas.
Yesterday, I was thrown into neurotic mama mode when Lu, Vivi's Chinese babysitter, arrived with "treats" for her. As I've posted before, Lu and I really can't communicate but I ascertained that Lu found my use of gummy bears as potty-training bribery to be unacceptable. (Maybe it was the scrunched up expression on her face that gave it away.) Hence, the new treats.
Well, the "treats" weren't just for a successful trip to the potty. They were for anytime Vivi wanted them which turned out to be one right after another. She probably consumed ten of them in under a minute. This shocked me…

It's a Girl Thing

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When I was pregnant my husband and I decided not to find out the sex of "Junior." We reasoned that there are so few true surprises in life that we wanted this to be one of them. Besides, I was convinced that I was carrying a boy anyway.

In retrospect, I think I had convinced myself I was carrying a boy so if one came out, I wouldn't be disappointed. You see, I reallywanted a girl although I wasn't able to fully admit that to myself while pregnant. Of course, like all pregnant women, I wanted a healthy baby with ten fingers and ten toes but if I had been given a choice between a healthy boy or a healthy girl, I would have taken the girl without hesitation. I am sure I would have loved a boy as much as I love Vivi but I just didn't feel like I would have known what to do with a boy. After all, I have four sisters.
Well, be careful what you semi-subconsciously wish for. I've tried to be aware of how Vivi's sex might impact my interactions with her and the choi…

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

My husband and I used to be big baseball fans. When I was living in Boston, it was nearly impossible not be sucked into the ups and downs of the Red Sox. It was depressing and euphoric almost always at the same time and that was wonderful.

During our courtship and first year of marriage, my husband and I had regular dates watching the games on TV or occasionally seeing them in person. It was a happy time for us until three terrible things happened: The Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in a zillion years which made it impossible to go to a game without mortgaging our house. Then the Red Sox establishment decided that they would make more money airing their games on cable which effectively removed us from the viewing equation. (We being antenna-type folks and all.) Lastly, and most devastating, Johnny Damon left the team. Now this might not seem like a big deal to most folks but Johnny D was the Red Sox for me. It wasn't the beard or his way with words or his superior …

Language

After returning from Turkmenistan, I came to the realization that I had lost my handle on English prepositions and some verbs. This may sound strange but I still confuse words like of, at, to and in. Am I "of a mindset" or "in a mindset?" Did we spend the day "in the park" or "at the park?" I really don't know. I also have found that sometimes I have to stop and think about which form of a verb I should use. For example, it is not immediately clear to me that "the box of snacks was open" is correct grammar. My brain hears snacks and I have to stop and think, "Is it 'was open' or 'were open'? What is the subject of the verb?"
Now one would think that for me to lose a pretty basic part of the English language, I must have been quite good at speaking Russian. That would be wrong. I spent my entire time in the Peace Corps struggling with a language that didn't make ANY sense to me. If I encountered someone…

Manipulation

I am starting to come to the conclusion that our kid has us all figured out. Vivi seems to know a way to get the things she wants and we are often struck by her creativity. Unfortunately, we are also struck by how easy it is for our toddler to manipulate us.

Let's take potty training for example. I initially thought I could use the gummy bear multi-vitamin she takes to facilitate her pottying. She loves the bears so every time she uses the potty she gets one (either the vitamin or a regular one.) It's been a great motivator for her. In fact, now she'll go sit on the potty as much as 10 times an hour in the hopes that something will come out that will warrant a gummy bear. Another great mommy idea turned bad.

The second big manipulation hit us at bedtime. Around two, Vivi went from being the easiest kid in the world to put to bed to a fierce 25 lb. warrior armed with demands and needs that could not be met in any satisfactory way. A routine that used to consist of teeth-bru…

Babies

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Sometime around the age of 18 months, Vivi became interested in babies. Actually, that is a bit of an understatement. Around 18 months, Vivi became OBSESSED with babies. Newborn or newly walking, boy or girl, awake or asleep-- it didn't matter so long as they were smaller than she was. Nine months later and this doesn't exactly feel like a phase anymore.

I've learned that Vivi has a sixth sense for babies. She just seems to know when there is one around. She can spot a baby carrier perched on a shopping cart or a stroller parked in the distance long before I do. I often become conscious of a baby's presence by Vivi's insistent repetition of "I see dat baby! I see dat baby!" If I don't bring her over to see the baby she has spotted, she will dissolve into a heaving mess of tears. It's not pretty.

While it is certainly a delight to see Vivi take an interest in someone other than herself, the baby obsession can have it's problems. You see, Vivi doe…

Getting It Done

Things I thought I would get done yesterday:

-Get a TB test for my volunteer work
-Drop off a bag of Vivi's old toys at Salvation Army
-Mop the living room
-Call back a friend who phoned a week and a half ago
-Buy a frame for a print that we want to hang up
-Figure out our meals for the week
-Grocery shop
-Mail the reply card to my sister's wedding
-Pay some bills
-Finish my sister's birthday present (Her birthday was June 24)
-Arrange to get some estimates for our boiler replacement
-Return a DVD to the library

Things I actually got done yesterday:

-Got a TB test
-Returned a DVD to the library

Things I did but didn't intend to:

-Took a nap
-Brushed Vivi's hair


So I'll try again today to get it all done. Then tomorrow I can blog about how I need to get a better handle on my expectations for accomplishing things.

Recipes

It's another summer Saturday and I've already broken my promise of posting a recipe every weekend. I think I am going to institute an exception for weekends when we are away. Hey, that's the beauty of being a grown-up with her own blog-- I get to make the rules up as I go. (Hmmm.... that's also kind of how I parent.)

Anyway, here are two of our favorites. Hope you enjoy them!

EXTRA MINTY TABBOULI

1 cup dry bulghar wheat
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 packed cup fresh mint leaves
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley (1 t. if dried)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cuke, skin removed and diced

Combine bulghar, boiling water, and salt in a bowl. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes, or until bulghar is chewable.

Add lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, mint, and parsley to bulghar and mix thoroughly. Let rest in refrigerator for at least two hours. (You can skip this step if you are rushed for time but the flavor just gets be…

Real Jobs

Last night, I was in the company of several other women whom I had never met before. As we were introducing ourselves, one woman said, "My name is XXX. I am the mother of six kids but I have a real job at XXX investment company."
This comment really struck a nerve. Why was she discounting her own role as a mother by saying "but I have a real job..." and why does being paid for work make it "real?" This touched on the larger question of what truly forms our own personal identity? That's something I've been thinking about a lot since I became a mother.
While pregnant, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't return to my job once the baby arrived. I had a new and astoundingly incompetent supervisor which exacerbated an already stressful line of work. The hassle of managing my manager in addition to everything else just didn't seem worth it. Then Vivi came along and everything changed. I didn't know anyone here except my husband and I missed the c…

Losing it

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While we were in Maine, I was feeling pretty darn good about my parenting skills. I was cool. I was calm. I was caring but firm. I was mindful. I was Zen Mama and oh boy, did it feel good. Bedtime at 10 pm and Aviva's losing it? I had it all under control. Breakfast of toast, peanut butter, strawberries, rice krispies, silly putty, scones, AND a bite of cheesecake? We're on vacation and the kid should live a little. A trip to a public beach and Vivi wants to be naked? She's got a cute tushie so let's go for it. A long car ride home on Sunday? Let's sing Ring Around the Rosie a million times. It didn't matter because Mama had it TOGETHER!
Then Monday rolled around and Mama lost it- BIG TIME!

It all started when I volunteered to take Aviva on errands in the morning so my husband could get some things done at home. We went to the farm for our vegetables knowing full well that Vivi would be begging to see the goats. I thought I'd just let her see them for a minut…

Where's Maine?

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Our Independence Day holiday involved a trip to Maine or what Aviva called a "big a'venture." There's no doubt about it-- traveling away from home with our toddler usually does turn into a big adventure. This trip was no exception.

The wonderful thing about Vivi's rapidly expanding vocabulary is that we can now have actual conversations about our adventures. The bad thing is that we seem to have the same conversations over and over again. Take this one for example:Vivi: Where's Maine?
Me: It's where we are going this weekend.

Ten minutes later

Vivi: Where's Maine?
Me:It's where we are going this weekend. You are going to see your cousins there.

Ten minutes later

Vivi: Where's Maine?
Me: It's where we are going this weekend. You are going to see your cousins there. It's near the ocean.

Ten minutes later

Vivi: Where's Maine?
Me: Where do YOU think it is?
Vivi: At MamaDaddyVivi house.
Me: Yup. That's it!

I am seriously starting to think that th…

Green Is the New Black

I've never considered myself a real hipster. I don't follow trends. I really can't tell you who Hannah Montana is. I'm not into fashion. (Although I recently drew the line at my husband wearing his high school gym shorts ever again. He graduated in 1974.) I haven't enrolled our toddler in an SAT prep course. I just live my little life the best way I know how-- simply. It seems that by doing so I have turned myself into a willing participant in a green revolution.
We try to do what makes sense for us-- hanging our clothes outside, reusing cloth grocery bags, having a garden, turning off the lights, and walking or riding our bikes whenever possible. (When we need to drive, we have a Prius.) It doesn't feel like a big deal. Perhaps, it was growing up in Vermont and spending most of my childhood outside that made me this way. Or living in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps volunteer and seeing how it was possible (and in many ways, preferable) to get by on so little. Or …