28 December 2011

This blog is really going places!

just noticed ive posted over 500 entries to this blog (in its 3+ years). eeps!

also, google blogger has a stats tracker and its telling me that ive had 16,000+ views to this blog (since whenever it started counting and not including the times i view it). it gives me information on a few other things too, like which particular posts are most read...my pregnancy and early newborn posts seem to regularly be the most frequented. thats good i guess, other parents are hopefully realizing they arent alone in whatever less-than-glamorous, stressful situation they may be finding themselves.

there are also amusing stats like what keywords people searched for that brought them to the blog. most of the time these are dull, but occasionally i see a seriously laughable keyword search, and i think "really, those keywords got someone to my blog? wtf!?"

examples:
boobs for belgium
dirty black grandpa
pee have bubbles
icy beard
high temperature grout cleaning
oh, it's seems error!
naked baby bending over (this ones not too crazy, but i do find it to be creeeeeeepy)

anyway, as ive said, this blog is mostly for me, dave, and X, and hopes to keep friends and family in the loop about what we are up to, but im also glad to think that maybe im helping a few others along the way to find good places to eat, and visit, and maybe i am saving some mom or dad a tiny bit of the anxiety that comes along with parenting. you are not alone! and the internet reminds me of this all the time.

p.s. i receive next to no comments these days. no need to be timid people! leave a note if you wish, even if i dont know you. :)

25 December 2011

Christmas orphans

we were kindly invited to some christmas festivities by a couple of daves colleagues. 

the holiday weekend was whisper quiet around the city. students had gone home, and it seemed that the rest of the inhabitants left the city for more rural relatives. the stores were much more focused on being closed for the holidays than they ever are in the u.s. and i was terrified of having day after day of nowhere to go with X...enter daves work colleagues.

colleagues isabelle and djordje invited us to their place christmas eve. they dont have family in the country and they live out in a fairly isolated (yet beautiful) stretch of the coast south of us. it was nice to still get that feeling of people coming together over the holidays, even though we werent with family. we love being invited to their home because they are such knock out hosts and they love to cook for people. it was to be an indian curry meal and isabelle had planned a chicken/peas/rice side dinner for X (so nice of them).

however, issues cropped up. first, i had a lovely headache. second, their house isnt super kid-friendly. they are very kind and relaxed about it, but of course we felt like we had to hover over X and watch her like a hawk, so it was hard to actually socialize. third, there was a miscommunication about my dietary needs. i still cant do dairy and soy because of X (and even nuts are a bit iffy late in the evening). well...every single thing they made had dairy in it, except the rice. i had water, rice and Xs leftovers for dinner that night. our hosts were horrified by their mistake and i was trying to suck it up in the largest way i possibly could so that they didnt feel an ounce worse than they were already making themselves feel. and finally, we had also mistakenly given X too many apricot pieces (while snacking) that day so she was busy pooping herself silly while at their house, and then crying about the pain that the poop was giving her butt. ugh, what a combination. happily, we managed to keep our cool and made the best of the visit though. we really do like to see these people, however, i fear they will need quite a few months to get over that experience.

and then came christmas day. even more silent and ghost town-ish around our area. daves boss had invited us over for some christmas libations and snacks around 3p. this was very kind of them and of course we welcomed the idea of having anything to do on christmas. their gathering involved their daughter and the wifes parents (who we actually knew because they gave us a dresser when we first moved in to town). they have a nice, old, non-ostentatious house, and being filled with christmas decorations and family made it all the homier. also, meeting their daughter for the first time was nice, she was very kind and paid attention to X, even gave her some of her childhood books (she just graduated from college). X was entertained for a while, but there was enough activity going on that she wouldnt settle and so i was chasing her around the house...and then the snacks and drinks came out.

drinks in flutes and plates of food that were X no-nos were all perched precariously down at her level, and suddenly it was no fun to be there anymore. she wouldnt eat the snacks i had brought for her and she marched right up and swiped some dairy-based seafood cocktail dip off the daughters plate. ugh. i packed her up. i was a bit sad to leave (dave stayed behind, since we only live across the street) because the wifes parents are really interesting elderly people. they seem to be active in the community, well-educated, well-read, and comfortable moving along with the changes each new decade brings. there was no sentiment of "in MY day things worked like this" in the way they talked and they didnt just talk about the weather or tv programs. i was fascinated (i want to be like them when i am old). most grandparent aged people in my experience (im talking 75+ here) dont talk like them. anyway, i left early with X, but it was nice to be around these people for a little while on an otherwise quiet sunday holiday.

so that was our christmas weekend. it was really nice to have been invited in to peoples homes during a time that is usually so family-oriented. this is the kind of thing im really interested in doing (whenever we get settled somewhere). i love the idea of a makeshift "family" coming together during a holiday, so that no one is alone. people who cant afford to get home to distant family, people with little or no family, or whatever other reason might bar people from being able to partake in a more "traditional" holiday celebration. id love to be the house that people gather at. dave and i have small families anyway, and they are never all going to be in the same place at the same time, so our table (should we chose to stay home for whatever holiday) would always be mostly empty. this doesnt need to be a sad thing though. we can fill it with friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and that way we can always have a warm, interesting, and memorable holiday meal. i find this to be very appealing in lots of ways, one being that X (while perhaps not having a house filled with siblings) would then experience a full house on at least certain occasions. 

a final note about our christmas weekend: these experiences reminded us of our constant battle with socializing and dealing with Xs food issues. we dont want to isolate ourselves and not go out. we dont want to put people out to conform to our dietary needs. we dont want to offend people by packing meals for myself and X and eating our food at a table where we've been invited over specifically for dinner. its hard, and awkward, and we never know how to deal with it. no matter what, something always makes the meal challenging. we dont want to put Xs comfort down the scale of priorities but we dont want to come in to someone elses space and make the food issues take over. i think i could try to paint the picture of our frustrations and dilemmas surrounding this issue for pages and pages and i still wouldnt get it right. so, i think i'll stop there.

22 December 2011

Winter so-solstice

happy winter solstice!

so, last year we went very minimal on the gift end of celebrations. in fact, i dont think we actually got X anything to open, we just did the ceiling decorations. and that turned out to be plenty of entertainment and delight for her. this year, we stepped up the gift giving, but still focused on keeping it minimal. she still has little understanding of the concept of gifts and so she has no expectations or demands around them. i know as the years go on and she is more aware of when gifts are coming and what kind of fun they can provide, she will have more expectations. and that is fine. i just think that if we start with a reasonable pile of gifts and grow the budget and/or size of the gift mountain according to her understanding of gifts, we can end up maintaining a reasonable amount of gifts, as well as imparting a positive and healthy gift giving message. 

anyway, to kick off solstice, last night we went to the nearby neighborhood that has over-the-top christmas decorations. we're talking the several million dollar mansions that hire cranes to put up all their lights and decorations. even as an adult, it was pretty magical. X seemed totally mesmerized. she wanted to walk up one of the porches to get a closer look at their giant nutcracker. and she talked for days about the santa that was waving to her from a yard.

and then we headed home, wound down, and got X to bed. then we went about setting up for solstice. we had the 4 snowflakes we cut from last year out and we cut 4 more new ones for this year (we used paper that X had painted on, so her handiwork was a part of the decorations this year). we put them on fishing line and hung them from the ceiling. we also stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, thinking she might get a kick out of that (i neglected to think about the fact that we never play in the room when it is dark, so the glowing is actually rarely seen. silly mama). and then we set out her solstice goodies: a sled, a double-sided dry erase board with cool crayons, rhythm sticks, a jingle bell shaker (this and the sticks were her favorite things from our kindermusik class), and a realistic horse toy (she is bonkers about horses these days).

video
(this video is like 3.5 minutes long. she had just woken up and walked in to the room. she normally makes a beeline for that table [it has her library books on it]. i love her slow-on-the-uptake reaction when she realizes there is something new in her play area. she finds the horse first, then the dry erase board, then the sticks. everything else was ignored. ah well.)

so, i guess her gifts were just ho-hum this year (in terms of my expectations of her reaction). oh well. i am repressing the feeling of wanting to go out and buy something huge for her, just to make it feel like we got her a big "thing" for the holidays. but, there is always her birthday, and now that she is getting old enough, id like to do little things for each equinox and the summer solstice too. there are plenty of times throughout the year for gift giving. plus, we dont hold back in getting random fun things for her when we see them (we recently went to the thrift store and found a hula hoop and some pretty play scarves).

the rest of the day wasnt bad though. we were tired of cooking and wanted to brave it at a restaurant. dave had seen that rockbottom brewery recently got a well-known brewer to come in and do their beers, and along with his arrival they revamped their entire menu. we were willing to try it again, and hope for a better meal than the one other time we had been there. it turned out to be great! we ordered two sandwiches with the bread and cheese (evil soy lurks in almost all bread) on the side and a mountain of (baked) sweet potato fries. X was very, very pleased and we all cleaned our plates. dave enjoyed the beer this time and best of all, X didnt have any tummy troubles that night. i think that honestly was a first, a restaurant that didnt give us problems. i guess we will be frequenting rockbottom more often!

to finish the night, we watched some of Xs new obsession: the sound of music. she has memorized the "do re mi" song and the "so long, farewell" song. i guess she is on her way to loving the movie as much as i do. and its great that its not a cartoon-y princess movie that would make me want to shoot myself if i had to hear it every week.

and lastly, over night, we got the best winter solstice gift: snow! we had been splashing in puddles, and just like that...we woke up to a blanket of snow. and the snow fell all day. we got to make snowmen and use Xs new sled. so, i guess the only thing that was "so so" about the solstice was her reaction to the gifts, which is just a lingering hang-up i must have from my own past. im looking forward to more winter celebrations.

(playing in puddles on winter solstice [~45F out]; snow the next day!)
(first snowman [she wouldnt hug him when i asked]; carrying her snowball; sledding with momma [another snowball in hand])

18 December 2011

Woo-ekend

its been over 20 months since dave and i had our last "date", today this situation was rectified.

our babysitter, sara, was done with school for the year and she wasnt traveling home right away for the holidays. she was kind enough to give us some of her weekend time so we could get our first date. it ended up being a modest midday sunday "date" and that was fine with me.

the day actually started with dave taking X to the natural history museum so i could have quiet time to finish up some work and get Xs lunch ready. we had sara from 11:30a-2p. and it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. 

our date wasnt very elaborately planned. i just wanted to spend time with him relaxing, talking, and being a normal non-parent adult. i was determined that the date time would NOT involve: running errands, going shopping, seeing a movie, or talking about X (incessantly). so, we chose to do lunch and bowling.

lunch was at the yummy middle eastern place we like. we were the only ones there and we had a nice, quiet, slow meal that was actually able to be consumed while it was still hot. a novelty! after food, we headed out for some candlepin bowling, which i now realize means we recreated a "date" we had done while i was pregnant.
 
we did a terrible job bowling!! i mean it was truly embarrassing. we were lucky we were the only people there or else i would have had to put a paper bag over my head. last time we were here i won all 3 games we played. this time, i lost all three! this was bad for my ego, but it was fun to get reacquainted with my competitive nature. but, we ended up having a lovely time, despite the fact that we were awful. i decided it was a general metaphor for the situation we now found ourselves in: rusty at having adult fun. it looks like we need some practice on going out by ourselves.

all in all, we had a great time in our 2.5 hours, and i wouldnt have had any use to be gone from X for longer. to be sure, we had a different kind of fun without her (quiet, slow, relaxed, totally driven by our own wants/needs), but its not like we dont know how to have a similar amount of fun WITH X. it also showed me that, while dave and i should definitely seize all future opportunities for some free time alone, we had been doing a good job of supporting each other, listening to each other, and connecting with each other while being full-time parents. i didnt feel like the "date" was required to help us fill in a gap in our relationship, and it wasnt hard to make interesting conversation about things that didnt involve X.

11 December 2011

Tis the season

holiday parties and the start of the 2nd birthday parties. eeps!

-thursday (12/8): my work party, at a country club. nice place, and kid friendly with areas to run and even had "safe" decorations (read: not easily broken). they made two separate dinner plates especially for X and i. we sat near an exit and the evenings musicians. and we magically ended up at a table with two colleagues who i actually knew (i only knew about 20% of the people at the party...a hazard of working from home). my new boss (mark) had his kids there too and i got to meet his adorable daughter, beatrice. X charmed the pants off of everyone she met and she had absolutely no issues with being at the party. a huge success!

-friday (12/9): after dinner we went down to the christmas market on the waterfront for a free carousel ride. X was waaaaaaay more enamored with the carousel this time, compared to when she first rode one in france. and that was fine by us, this one was free! we rode the thing 4 times. i think we will have to go back later this weekend too.

 
(carousel ride!)

-saturday (12/10): our first birthday party for a two year old. mr harrison. what a sweetie. this kid is gonna have a lot of ladies chasing after him when he gets older. his party was a mix of grandparent aged family and toddlers. and it totally worked. the older folks fawned and the kids played SO well together. several of our mom group ladies were there and everyone had a nice time in the 1.5 hour time span. im thinking this will be the last year where the parties are this chill. i envision screaming and fighting kids next year, but maybe i will be pleasantly surprised.

got back from the birthday party and dave went to frisbee while X and i had down time. when dave got home we rebooted for daves work party. a curry buffet. hell of a great idea. the hosts (daves boss who lives, literally, right across the street) made rice and some seafood curries and the rest of the guests brought a curry of their choosing. we made a mild lentil curry so X could safely partake, and i was able to enjoy a spicy beef, spicy lentil, and mild chicken curry that were fabulous.