April 29, 2007

I watched a great movie called “Machuca” last night. It’s a coming-of-age story told through the life of an 11-year-old privileged boy in Chile during their socialist upheval in the 70s. I got a real basic history lesson from the film, one that describes most political unrest in Latin America.


Basically, the president in power, Allende, wanted the poor to have better lives, so he began introducing socialist/marxist/communist ideals to the country. The upper-class peeps didn’t agree with having to sacrifice or have their privileges taken away, or even shared. In the movie, a few slum kids are invited to attend an elite private grade prep school. an unlikely friendship forms, the viewer gets a lesson on the class system and how disgusting it is, what poverty really looks like and how lucky some people are. The end is sad. The president ends up killing himself when the nationalist party takes over, restoring “normalcy.” The poor people basically get exterminated. It breaks my heart, except the continuation of the history lesson is that the nationalist leader who took power, Pinochet, was eventually exiled for crimes against humanity (for killing all those poor people) and Chile is now led by a socialist female president. Of course that doesn’t mean Chile doesn’t still have rich and poor. I’d love to visit one day. It’s my “neighbor” country anyway, although Peru and Chile haven’t been friendly in the past.


sitting still

April 26, 2007

I’m sitting still for the first time in my life. I realized this the other night as I was obsessively looking up people on MySpace. We have a home, the baby’s fine, the bills are paid, I like my job, I’m done with school, I love my boyfriend. . . I have absolutely nothing left to do but chill. It’s so odd to not be looking for something, or planning for something. It’s going to be at least a couple of years before we do any other job hunts, or house searches, or major vacations. In the meantime, I have some hobbies in mind. My sewing machine has been calling to me. There are two blouses I can’t wait to make. There’s also a running track at the middle school about two blocks from our house. Now that it’s light out until almost 9 p.m. I can sneak out while Carlos stays home with the baby. He’s taken up skateboarding. I miss running. I never thought I’d ever say that. Running was my personal hell for so long. Now I can’t wait to run around and sort my random thoughts.

at Bennington Lake

6 a.m.

April 21, 2007

Been up for almost a half hour now. The baby and Carlos are in the living room asleep. Itzul’s in her room, probably won’t get up for a few more hours. I’m not sure why I felt like waking up so early on one of my only two days off during the week, but here I am, in bed, blogging.

Last night we went to a new sushi place in downtown Walla Walla. Diego had been feeling under the weather so he spent most of the dinner with his head on my shoulder, or else playing with my dish and chopsticks. We ordered a few rolls that were really good but not quite great, in my opinion anyway.

The restaurant is set up with three stations of sushi bars, one after the other, with people sitting around them in like a half rectangle shape. The restaurant is so new that I think the chefs are still getting up to speed. Plus they have crazy strict rules about food handling so there’s not a lot of the direct hand contact you might see at a sushi place in, say, Seattle or LA.

After dinner we walked through downtown. It was a beautiful warm night, and we keep forgetting that the sun stays out later. I kept thinking Diego was feeling sick, although I still think he was, but when we got to the Patisserie up the block I realized it was 8:30 p.m. and way past his bedtime. We got drinks and pastries and talked for a bit. This place has exquisite pastries and espresso drinks. Itzul got a fancy cocoa she says was very chocolaty. The cafe was quite nearly packed with all sorts of people. College students, locals, out-of-towners. We walked a little more and did a little window shopping, then headed home for some TV watching. We took Diego’s temperature and he was just around normal. I hope he’s feeling better today.

Considering making pancakes. At least it’ll get me out of bed.

mac n’ cheese

April 19, 2007

My 17-month-old loves – I mean, loves– macaroni and cheese. But I’m not one to buy boxed instant foods, so I’ve been spending the last few months trying to perfect a recipe. This is my easy-breezy concoction, baking optional.

Cook a cup or two of macaroni, depending on how much you want left over. Drain, set aside. Heat up a scoop of butter, half a cup of milk and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the milk is pretty warm, add a spoonful of flour. Start stirring until the milk, butter and flour make a thick gooey sauce. Add the macaroni and stir. Shred about two cups of cheese (I usually keep a baby loaf of Colby Jack in the fridge) and stir in until melted through. It might need some extra salt, depending on your taste. But I’m cooking for a toddler, so sometimes bland is not an issue.

I served this for dinner to the teenager and Carlos the other night and it came out nice. If I’d had a bit more time on my hands I might have thrown it in the oven for 20 minutes to toast it a bit.

cleaner cleaning

April 18, 2007

I’ve discovered the wonders of home-made cleaning products. I got a bottle of Amonia, a bottle of white vinegar, a big box of Baking Soda and some lemons. I’m only going to use a bit of dish soap to clean counters and the floor.

Here are some of the cleaning solutions I”m trying out that are working wonders:

Hardwood floors:

1/2 cup of white vinegar in 2 gallons (about a bucket full) of hot water. Add a few drops of lemon to cut the smell, and a squirt or two of dish soap. I passed this concoction over my hardwood floors and it left them lustrous.

Kitchen vinyl flooring:

1/2 cup of amonia to one gallon of hot water. I added a bit of lemon and baking soda to get some tough stains. I’m not sure what amonia is, other than a distant cousin of bleach, but it did the job. The floor got clean and dried quickly.

Bathroom/kitchen sinks and tubs:

We’ve been sprinkling the baking soda over surfaces for a quick disinfection. The amonia and hot water combo would probably be good for a deeper clean.

Stains on clothes:

I soaked a clothing item with some blood stains (don’t ask) in the sink with a bit of amonia. I also sprinkled some of the baking soda directly on the stain and left it alone for a while. When I came back I scrubbed the baking soda into the stain and rinsed it with the water and it was pretty much gone. Love it!

My goal here is to not have to buy any more floor solutions, bathroom cleaners, spray bottles of disinfectant, etc. So far so good!

teenager in the house

April 17, 2007

There are now tell-tale signs of a teenager having taken over our home. Wet towel left on the bathroom floor. TV blaring while said teenager plays hand-held video games on couch. Unmade bed, clothes strewn on floor, evidence of long hair on ground. All joking aside, having my step-daughter with us is a true joy. It brings a much-needed dynamic to our home and has Diego excited for the extra attention and bonus play mate. I believe he understands the special connection he shares with his older sister, despite the distance between their visits and the 11 years separating them. She’s here on her spring break and Carlos could not be any giddier about it. He showed off some of his “krumping” moves for us on Saturday and couldn’t keep himself from passing gas. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. But I’m also a bit on edge because I can feel myself going into mommie overtime with extra food to prepare, dishes to clean and clothes to wash. I gave Carlos his first warning yesterday that I’m not going to be the only one on house cleaning duty this week. And I recognize that’s just me being anal. I have no shame in my obsessions.

Here’s to hoping the weather stays sunny and we get outside as much as possible.

Thinking about baby #2

April 17, 2007

Carlos and I have had babies on the brain for a while now. Diego is not really the “baby” anymore, and becoming quite the toddler. He can feed himself, run around well, climb a couple of steps and play well on his own. He also “talks” quite a stream, although we’re not sure what he’s saying yet. If we ask him what he wants, he’ll nod or shake his head, and holler an enthusiastic “yeah” when we find the object of his desire.
So obviously we’re figuring out whether it’s time to plan for baby number two. And really, I’m still figuring out whether I want Diego to have a younger sibling. When I see how excited he gets around other children, I can’t wait for him to have a little sister or brother for him to guide and play with. But when I think about doing it all over again – the year of nursing, pureeing veggies, changing diapers, sleepless nights – and adding Diego to the equation, I wonder if I can handle it. Sadly, we have to consider our finances as well. Things have been going well for us, probably better than we imagined, because we are both working full time. Day care is probably our biggest expense next to the mortgage, but it’s manageable.
We’ve been thinking of trying for baby number two early next year, and hopefully welcoming our second bundle of joy by the time Diego is 3. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to wait that long. I think I’m ready to be pregnant now. At least that way my maternity clothes will still be in style. But then when I think of the baby being here, I can’t imagine how we’ll adjust. How long will I take off work? I know we can’t afford two kids in day care. Would I try to work part time from home, while managing two children? Or work full-time from home, but send Diego to day care until he’s ready for preschool?
I guess we’ll probably approach it along the same way we handled Diego’s arrival: take it a day at a time, trim and cut everywhere imagineable, and realize how quickly it all passes.
I can’t imagine of any greater gift to give Diego than a baby brother or sister. But would we be sacrificing the comforts we have now? I also don’t want to struggle with a new baby the way we did when Diego was an infant. I guess chance will guide us better than reason can. And hopefully everything else will just fall into place.