What rot

February 9, 2010

So it’s been a week since the plumbing drama at the house. And it is a total relief to know we have a main water line that won’t be deteriorating any time soon! The guys who did the digging showed me parts of the rotted pipe, and it was pretty incredible that we had functioning water drainage for almost three years. There were roots in the pipe as thick as potatoes, and we have no idea if they are from a neighbor tree or from some tree that is no longer in our yard. Anyway, drama over for now.

Everything else has been pretty typical around the house. I am constantly stressed juggling the house and my work, but I try to remember that I have a job that I truly love that gives me a ton of flexibility. I love that I can sit on the couch at night and do my writing, sometimes my best writing, when everything is done around the house and I can just think in peace.

The boys have been battling with naps, as usual. Diego being 4 now, might not need a nap anymore, although he just loves to sleep and sleeps extremely well. Rafa on the other hand, not so much. We’ve started tucking him in at night with a book, and that seems to be helping him settle himself down. More than his blankie or a stuffed animal.

The last couple of days we have tried skipping the afternoon nap for both of them. So we’ve been getting them to bed at 7, and they were asleep either right at 7 or by 7:30. Beautiful. I almost didn’t know what to do with my night with so much extra time. But then comes 6:30 a.m., and they are ready to start the day. Yesterday, after a couple of no nap days, Rafa finally knocked out on his own in the afternoon. He took a solid two hour nap, but I think I am ok with the no nap situation, even though he is not yet 2.

Today is another crazy day. I have to finish two stories for work, and I am hoping that writing this out early in the morning clears some of my work writers block. Diego and I are going to check out a little preschool that a friend recommended. Then it’s off to regular preschool. Diego will be 5 this year but will miss the cutoff to start kindergarten, so it’s another full year of preschool for him.

Here’s wishing everyone a great week!


Here’s to 2010

February 1, 2010

Photo Diego took in Spring 2009 with his toddler camera

I’m picking a fitting day to restart my blog. Tomorrow the plumber guys come to our house to fix a plumbing problem that we’ve had since we first moved into the house. We’d kinda forgotten about it, or chose to forget about it, knowing that it would eventually come back to haunt us.

I keep thinking about Newton’s third law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I don’t know why I keep wanting to apply this law to economics or my everyday actions when it has to do with gravity.

Anyway, we get a nice tax return this year. But a big chunk of it is going to replace our main line. An action, with an opposite reaction. Or maybe that’s just life. I feel like the old couple from “Up” who keeps saving for the trip to South America, except life’s accidents keep eating up their cash. Grrr…

Today was a nice day. Carlos took the boys to the children’s museum and I got to work on our rain gutters. I was shoveling mud out of them. How does mud get into rain gutters? Anyway I only made it down one side of the house, because I started to get nervous on the ladder. It was another cool day where we ate all our meals at home, like we are trying to do most weeks. I made blueberry pancakes in the morning, tuna salad sandwiches for lunch, and an Asian stir-fry with udon noddles and veggies at night. Yesterday was the exception. We went to the Tri-Cities specifically to go to Red Robin, pigged out on burgers, fries and mac n’ cheese (for the boys), then strolled through the mall and let the boys play in the kiddie area. We took some Cinnabon’s for the ride home, and just had sandwiches and soup for dinner.

I was really proud that we didn’t buy the boys any toys. We took a side trip to Toys R’ Us kind of to show Diego that we can go to a store and not necessarily have to buy anything. He had a tough time with it. He wasn’t even really sure what he wanted, just knew he had to walk out with SOMETHING. We saw some things he liked that he might get as a treat for Valentine’s Day or Easter. It’s a long way to his birthday and Christmas!

I’m gonna try to write every day again, and load a picture that Diego has taken every day. His pictures are way cooler than mine. My goal for each day is to only buy essentials, and eat most our meals at home.

The catch-up

May 4, 2009

So much already happening this year. I guess we’re getting closer to the half-way mark. We celebrate three years in Walla Walla in August. Carlos and I have been together 5 years. Diego turn 4. We head to LA for what is going to be our annual summer trip to see grandparents, family and friends.

My big news around here is that Rafael, all of 14-months, is finally walking like a champ. And he’s having more nights of sleeping soundly. He’s also rolling out his beginner vocab.

Rafael’s favorite words so far are:

DADA (screamed in the direction of Carlos)

Ashes, ashes… (in a sing-song voice, from our many rounds of Ring Around the Rosies)

MAMA (but not as loud as DADA)

DEGO (it’s so cute to hear him say his big bro’s name).

I also think he is fumbling around with Algar, and he points and smiles at Itzul so he is probably working on that one as well.

I’ve been teaching Diego to hum the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars, and I swear Rafael is picking it up as well. If I can get that one on YouTube, watch out.

But my biggest delight, the thing that has brought me immeasurable joy, is that we have brand new windows throughout our house. This means that after three years, we finally have windows that open. We can finally let fresh air in!

Our house was built in 1947, and the windows had been in place that long. I think 60 years is a pretty good shelf life for windows. There is also an addition, that added the master bedroom and bathroom, done in the late 70s I believe. Those windows were different, but I didn’t consider them “new” or “efficient” in their 30 years.

We’re slowly adding little touches to our house that is making it more “ours” every day. We got around to painting our living room, and our kitchen, bathrooms, and bedroom are next. We tried our hands at landscaping out front and hope the little flowers and plants we picked survive the summer and winter.

I gave our roses a good grooming during the winter, and it looks like they might be really nice this year.

When I find our camera I am going to post pictures of all these little projects I’m noting.

July can’t come soon enough. Even though I have the freedom to work from home if I must, or if I’m sick, it will be nice to have that leisure time with no responsibilities beyond the immediate family.

We’re also experimenting with contracting a maid. She’s only come out once so far, for three hours, but I think this is a relationship that is only going to blossom. I can’t explain how hard it is to work full-time, be a mom, and try to keep the house in order. She’s really only doing the grunt work of vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and scrubbing the bathrooms and kitchen. The laundry, dishes, and general tidiness of the house is still on us. Anyway, we only budgeted for 6 hours a month.

Our current situation, of both working full time, and having no family to help around the house, has been really tough. The last thing we want to do with our down time, or on our weekends, is mop, sweep, and scrub bathrooms and counters. But that is what would happen, and then we’d miss time with the kids. I think I may love this arrangement. It costs, but it’s cheaper than having me cut back on hours or not work, which we had also considered. Sometimes being a grown-up stinks.

Sweet sleep

February 9, 2009

Sleep deprivation has kept me from blogging for a long time. Our “newborn” is nearing his first birthday and he still loves to wake up in the middle of the night and torture us.

This kid is a screamer. He is a yeller, a howler, and a nurser. I guess the routine, if it could be considered that, goes like this:

Baby falls asleep anywhere between 7 and 9 p.m. Snoozes peacefully for about two hours. Wakes up and wants to nurse. We would let him cry, but he shares a room with his big brother. And I make the assumption that if he nurses while I’m still awake, then he might get his fill and sleep until morning.

Not quite.

He wakes up again, at any give time. It’s been 12:30 a.m., it’s been 1, or even 2. At this point, we try to just let him wail it out and get himself back to sleep. Last night, though, after 15 minutes, we couldn’t take it anymore and his cries were getting more intense. He belts his unhappiness. We try singing, rubbing his belly, rocking. I refuse to nurse. But I always give in. And within a matter of seconds, he is quiet and off to dreamland.

We tried something this weekend after a particularly bad night that would probably anger our pediatrician. We put him down on his belly. This is a big no-no in the pediatric world, but was the common practice with infants and toddlers for years. Since the baby is practically walking, we thought the risk was minimal. And he slept fine, from about 2:30 a.m. to about 6. Not great, not bad. But since that was the only length of time we got to sleep, it was a rough Sunday.

Same thing happened Sunday night. I caved in around 2 a.m., nursed, put him on the belly. Slept until about 6:30 a.m., just in time to get ready for work.

Our pediatrician had given us some acid-reflux medicine to give him, in case his sleep problems had to do with his belly and digestion. We have no way to know that this is what’s ailing him, and we haven’t used the medicine because the potential side-effects freaked us out. Depression? Hallucinations? How would we even know? Obviously these are the worst-case scenario, one in a million side effects, but still. That’s our baby.

The belly sleeping worked for now, but now that I think about it the baby usually sleeps from 2 until morning anyway.

My biggest, strongest wish at the moment is that he’ll sleep for 6 to 8 continuous hours. He should take a lesson from big brother Diego, who at 3 now sleeps (mostly) peacefully from 8 to 7. And that’s even with a nap.

A dream house

January 9, 2009

There is a house for sale a few blocks from our own home, and it is listed online. Every once in a while I go online, stare at the pictures and try to imagine what it would  be like to live in there. In many ways it is exactly the kind of house that I want for our family, and also very much what we need right now. We really need a few extra rooms where the kids can stretch out, run around, play games, explore, be free.

Our house is modest, but it feels like home and we’re happy here. It was also one of a few homes in our area in our price range. Even now I grumble about our mortgage payment, so I don’t know what I’m thinking when I start going window shopping for houses that are more than twice as much as what ours cost.

I try and talk myself out of it in many ways. First, cleaning is still a painful issue in our house. We have yet to find a system for sweeping, mopping, scrubbing the bathrooms, dusting, doing the laundry, and so on. We also have good sized front and back yards, with roses along the driveway and wild bushes out back that require landscaping attention we simply don’t know how to give. So then I think: if we can barely manage our 1,300 square foot house, and 6,000 square foot lot, how are we ever going to keep up with a 3,000 square foot house on a 12,000 square foot lot?

And there’s also the matter that we can’t afford it, even if we wanted it, and the other burden of already owning a house.

I tried to think of my obsession with out-of-reach houses kind of like an adolescent crush on a movie star. Like, I could think I’m in love with Brad Pitt, or Johnny Depp, and that nothing would bring me greater happiness than having one of them fall in love with me. But seriously, what are the chances? And better yet, how likely is it that we’ll even be compatible?

Anyway, here is a picture:

I think I love this house.

I think I love this house.

I should really stop going to that web site. Isn’t $400,000 a steal in Los Angeles? Maybe soon it will be sold and I can just say, “Oh, well.” But isn’t it cute? And it doesn’t cost anything to dream, right?

A leaky Christmas

December 30, 2008

We had a great Christmas this year. All our children in the house! Rafael and Itzul were with us this year. Last year Rafa was still in my belly, and Itzul was in LA with her mom. The only real problem was the horrible snow and ice situation. Carlos discovered one of our living room windows was leaking, then realized a window in Itzul’s room was doing the same thing. I’m still not positive how the water was getting in, since most of what was outside was frozen and the highs Christmas week never really broke 20, but I guess it had to do with heat from our roof or walls melting that first layer of snow, which then froze, expanding and forcing its way into our siding, or the window’s frame, then getting closer into our house and the heat source, and eventually turning into a drip. So I was a nervous wreck most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day wondering when the leak would end, how much this was going to cost us, etc.
Besides our house brining on that headache, we tried to make the best of the holiday

On Christmas Day, after way too much TV and a couple of toys already broken or missing, we decided to go sledding. This is the kind of thing we could never do in LA. And truthfully, it’s not really common for Walla Walla either. We drove to the bike and skate park a couple of minutes from our house and found tons of like-minded people. Diego loved going down the sled, and it was a lot more thrilling (and scary!) than I had expected. We even let the baby have a go at it, very slowly and carefully of course.

Photog Diego

December 29, 2008

For his third birthday, we got Diego a little digital camera made just for toddlers. We figured it would distract him from wanting to use our camera all the time. It is encased in rubber, has dual view finders and even has a little screen to see the pictures he just took.

Here are some of my favorite pictures he recently took:

And one of the photographer, taken by me.

to spank…or not

October 31, 2008

A few months ago, at one of the local restaurants, there was a little girl having a royal tantrum. She either didn’t want to eat, or didn’t want to sit down, quite possibly both. The girl must have been right around Diego’s age, maybe 2 or 3. I watched as the mother switfly spanked the girl, once, quickly on the behind. The little girl let out one more loud scream — and then that was that. She sat down, ate her meal, and nothing more came of it.

I’m not really sure if I stared in disgust or awe. I’d seen Diego have fits way worse than that girl, and I had never thought to spank him. Okay, maybe I’d thought it, but thinking and doing are totally different.  Still, something about that encounter softened my views on spankings.

I have to say I was lucky to not have suffered spankings growing up, although I can recall two distinct times my mom yanked a string of my hair to snap me out of my bratty-ness. And the truth is, it worked. I’m not sure, though, how I would have turned out if spankings were the norm. But I do know people who endured the belt, the wooden spoon, or even “la chancla” and turned out relatively well.

Carlos and I agreed early on that we would not spank our children. But we hadn’t prepared ourselves for the terror that is Diego. My high-energy, defiant, rebellious boy has proven more and more stubborn and head-strong than both Carlos and I combined. Even over simple stuff. Like, “Diego, it’s time to brush your teeth.”

“Nooo!!! Never!!!” Which can be followed with toys being thrown, or the occasional swat at us. We try to understand where he’s coming from. Sometimes it’s hunger, or thirst, or being over-tired. But mainly I think it’s the toddlerhood telling him he knows better and he can do what he wants. (He is almost 3, after all).

So I decided to experiment with the butt pat. I reserved it for only the truly criminal offenses. Like when I had just gotten the baby calm, almost to sleep, and Diego started screaming. As the baby startled, and started to wail, Diego screamed more. The baby flipped out. He was terrified. And here was Diego, screaming away, laughing even, despite the baby’s yells and my pleas for him to stop.

The first time I tried the spank I made him laugh. The next time I tried it was when he bit me in the thigh – hard – twice. I think we were fighting over the nap issue. That time I tried it a bit harder, and he said “Owwie!”

That broke my heart. So later that day I told him I was sorry. And that I would never do that again.

I did, though, one final time, over probably a combination of things. And this time, he said “No!” and hit me back.

So I’ve decided to give up on the spanking thing, and do what we did the other night when he flipped out: pillow fight! We got to slug it out, and made the baby laugh this time instead of cry.

good luck, bad luck

October 9, 2008

So much news, so little time. The last few weeks feel like they can be gaged in good luck, bad luck terms. First there was the rejection from the Mid-Columbia Symphony I auditioned for. Bad luck. Going to the audition was tough enough. I really tried not to get my hopes up. I felt like “Lucy” from the “I Love Lucy” episode where she tries out for the part of dance girl on Ricky’s show, and all the other girls are younger, thinner, and way better dancers. The girls auditioning before me were younger, talented, and had obviously been practicing with a lot more heart (and time) than I could muster. I really knew I hadn’t spent as much time training as I should, but I wanted to go through with the audition anyway. I hope I didn’t come off like those singing wannabes on American Idol who draw the laughs but are completely ignorant of how much they truly suck.

I know I’m a good flute player, and hearing some recent flute performances have reminded me of how talented I am, but mainly of how talented I was. Or could have been. If I’d kept playing the last few years as much as I did in high school, I might be bad-ass. But I haven’t. Flute has been such an after-thought the last 10 years, that it’s a rarity I play it more than once a month.

Which led me to a big decision. I wanted to sell my flute. I really felt that some young person out there could benefit from having a good flute to kick off their flute-playing ambitions. And I sold it two weeks ago to a college student in Idaho. First year flute student, even tried out the flute in my living room.

It was rough. I got a good chunk of change for it, but now when I get that craving to whip out my flute, there’s nothing there for me to reach for. A coworker recently asked me if I was still selling it (he’d seen an ad I ran in our paper). And I said no. He said his wife has been learning, and is at a point where she could upgrade from her student flute to something more professional. And would you believe I felt jealousy? Like, wait, someone else is learning flute? I’m good at flute! Let me show you!

Anyway, I’ve decided that in a few years, when the boys are well into school, I am going to get a fancy new flute and maybe start teaching lessons. Maybe then I’ll have time to play every day again. Right now, it’s not going to happen.

So I guess the good luck with that is I got a bit of money to buy some nice things for myself and the family. We had a nice streak of good luck with money the last month. Good luck all around. Carlos finally got the money from a retirement account from his old job, and we paid off a ton of debt with it. We got paint so we can make our living room pretty. We got a (used) grill (that needs some parts). And then we both got a little bonus from work for winning journalism awards.

Now the bad luck. I hate UPS right now. A box with some nice clothes I ordered has somehow vanished. I think it got taken to the wrong house. Or it’s likely someone took it off the porch, but really really doubtful. For someone as anal as me, this type of mishap is devastating. I think I lost sleep over it. I”m trying to be humble though. I have so much more than other people. But I really, really wanted those clothes. Oh well.

Last week my grandmother died. Bad luck, although she was close to 100 and not the same abuelita. It was so painful to hear of her passing. It was also painful to see her health go these past few months, so she couldn’t walk or even talk. With her death, I am left without grandparents. But I get to fly down to LA on what would have been her 100th birthday, and see my entire family (all 200 of us) and we get to celebrate her life. That’s the way to go. My grandmother was a beautiful person. I’m glad the boys got to see her before she died. She really enjoyed them and it shows. In the end she even asked me who I was, and when I explained, she said, “oh yes, yes.”

la bisabuela, summer 2008

la bisabuela, summer 2008

I’m easily impressed

September 5, 2008

This revelation blew me away just a moment ago.

Go to the New York Times website, and open any article. Then click twice on any word. The Times’ site has a system that will look up the definition of the word for you, instantly. Even on words like “don’t.” It kind of made my day.

Does it work for anyone else? Maybe I’m hallucinating.