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 need a nap

August 22, 2008

Diego and I have been duking it out over his nap time. He thinks he doesn’t need one. I know better. Our routine right now is that we come home from day care at noon, we eat lunch, and Carlos goes back to work. Ideally, the boys would snooze from 1 to 3, or even 2 to 4, so I could rest too or get some work done. There have been times when Diego even sleeps three or four hours, because he really, really needs his afternoon nap.

But the last couple of weeks I have struggled to get him to rest. We did it to ourselves, though. For too long after we had Rafael, Carlos and I relied on a quick drive in the minivan to get Diego asleep. Diego’s over-tired? Let’s go for a quick drive. This technique back-fired on me, though, when I was home with both boys the last several months. It got too hard for me to take both sleeping kids from the car and into the house, and pray they both stayed asleep. What Diego started doing was waking up as soon as I’d put him on the bed. So I’d have wasted time driving around, and carrying them in two trips into the house, just to have to entertain them again.

I’ve tried putting videos in. I tried to reason with him that he will be so much happier, and play so much nicer, if he just rests. A few times (seriously, like maybe three times) he took his blankets and crawled into our bed on his own, and took a nap. Once I think he lay down on the floor of our bedroom and fell asleep right there. But most times I’m fighting with him that “You Need To Sleep!” and I’m taking him on several trips back into bed. When he refuses, I try to ignore him for however long it would take him to nap.

Yesterday it all came to a head. He’d been nice and quiet in our room (because he doesn’t like to nap in his own bed), and came out a while later. I knew he hadn’t slept, though, and walked him back in. And all over my comforter were his trademark swirls and lines, done in black ink. GRRRRRR!!!

So Carlos and I decided that I will encourage him to sleep, but if he doesn’t want to, I’ll just play nice and not guilt-trip him about how mommy is tried too and needs to rest too. And if he doesn’t sleep on his own before 3 p.m., he’s not to have a nap at all. Yesterday, after I rushed to the dry cleaners to see if they could get the ink marks off, Diego started asking for his “blankies.” I had confiscated them and put them on top of the fridge as punishment for doodling on the bed. He said sorry and I felt bad for the kid, so I gave them back. He walked to the couch and started closing his eyes. It was 4:30 p.m.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I said. I handed him a book. “Here, read instead.”

I felt ridiculous forcing him to stay awake when he clearly was falling asleep before our eyes. But the other day he’d napped from 4 to almost 6:30 p.m. and it totally threw off our night routine. We’re pretty good about getting Diego to sleep by 8 p.m. (after stories it’s probably a bit later, but this is our quiet down time). And the late nap days are rough, because then we’re pushing everything else back one hour.

I feel like there’s a no win situation here. If he doesn’t nap early, I have to keep playing and maybe even walk to the park to try and wear him out. If he sleeps in the stroller on the walk back but then wakes when we get home (which has happened often) I have to keep going with the entertainment. If he waits until way too late to nap, we either work to keep him awake, or work to get him to sleep that night.

In my ideal toddler world, Diego takes his blankies and stuffed tiger right after lunch, walks into mommy’s room and crawls into bed, snoozing for the two hours he desperately needs. This kid isn’t even 3 yet. I refuse to believe he doesn’t need a nap anymore. What 2 1/2 year old kid can go 14 hours without resting? Oh, that’s right. Mine.

24 hour drive

August 12, 2008

We took our family vacation a few weeks back. Two glorious weeks in Los Angeles to visit family and friends, show off the new baby, and enjoy some time away from work. We took the boys to their first trip to Disneyland, managed to make it to the Comic-Con in San Diego, and got to see just about all our family and friends in the area.

Getting to LA was half the adventure. We knew we didn’t want to fly down, mainly because it was out of our budget. With two kids under 3 years of age, we would have needed to pack car seats, a stroller, the playpen, our luggage, and then rent a car when we got to LA. So driving the 1,200 miles made more sense. But 20 hours in the car is a long time to travel with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4-month-old.

Our strategy was to leave Walla Walla at 7 p.m. on a Friday, take turns at the wheel and drive until we felt too drowsy to keep going. Probably not the safest choice, but the night was the only time we could count on the boys sleeping and us covering the most ground. After loading up on coffee and setting the DVD player up for Diego, we headed out of Walla Walla and toward the Oregon coast, to get on the 5 freeway. Carlos managed until about 12 a.m., and then I took over. I made it through most of Oregon and had to stop at a rest area about 3:30 a.m. Carlos took over again, and we decided to have an early breakfast at 4:30 a.m. The boys rustled out of sleep and were happy to get out of the car in a new place.

We found a Sheri’s restaurant (much like a Denny’s) almost identical to one we have in Walla Walla. I think we were just outside Yreka in California. The breakfast went smoothly, and when we got back on the road the sun was just getting up. We timed the stop perfectly because the boys knocked out once we got back in the minivan, and stayed asleep about another three hours. Then our worst fears manifested. After stopping several times to use the “potty,” to gas up, to nurse, to let Diego run around and play, and to buy goodies to make lunch, we made it to our first destination, Sacramento, at 1 p.m. Luckily we got to stay in a hotel thanks to my awesome aunt Ada, who also cooked dinner for us.

Diego and Rafa chillin' at the hotel in Sacramento.

Diego and Rafa chillin

Everyone slept peacefully that night. We killed time Sunday morning at a park, then started the six hour drive to LA a little before noon. Some more crankiness and way more stops than were necessary, and we made it to LA close to 7 p.m.

I can’t believe we did this drive again two weeks later. More soon…

Welcome Rafael

April 25, 2008

It’s been way too long since the birth of my son and my last post, but here is a 5-minute recap of the last two months.

Rafael decided to come two weeks early, just like his big brother. The pain started around 5 a.m. on March 7, a Friday, and I tried to dismiss them as false labor so I could squeeze some more rest before having to go to work. Granted, I’d already been feeling so uncomfortable in my 9th month that I’d started working from home. By 6 a.m. I realized the pain wasn’t going away. Carlos and I called an on-call doctor, because as chance would have it, my doctor had gone away for the weekend with her family.

We got to the hospital a little after 7 or 7:30 a.m., honestly I can’t remember now. At this point we still thought it was a false alarm. The nurse checked me and let me know I was close to 8 centimeters. For those who aren’t familiar with labor lingo, this basically means the baby is about to pop out. We had very little time to do anything. We hadn’t brought my overnight bag, and dragged Diego with us in his pyjamas because we honestly thought we’d have time to go back home. HA! Our dear child care provider picked Diego up from the hospital for us, and Carlos and I got ready for the delivery. I requested an epidural, but found out there wouldn’t be time for it. The on-call doctor showed, and he got me pushing pretty soon after all that. Except we weren’t having much luck with it. I think my mind and body shut down communication a bit when I realized this would not be pain free. I felt exhausted from pushing, combined with the pain, and could tell weren’t making any progress. So I asked if I could quit the pushing for a bit and just rest. Except resting doesn’t fit in real well with labor, and the contractions kept me from even catching my breath. I started clutching Carlos’ hand more vigorously, and even tried pulling my hair to distract from the pain in my abdomen.

The doctor had to run off for something, just as I decided to start pushing again. The nurses had to fetch a doctor from somewhere else, and for a moment I truly thought Carlos and Itzul would be delivering the baby. I couldn’t tell much of what was happening from my vantage point, but I believe the next doctor ran into the room and had just enough time to put a robe on before catching Rafael as he came out. Carlos later told me the doctor didn’t even have time to put on gloves, and had to use the scrubs over his hands instead.

The pain was incredible, and I screamed and cried out loud like I never have before. Getting Rafael out felt like a great accomplishment as much because it made the pain finally end. And here he is:

The hospital stay was extended a bit because Rafael was born with the cord around his neck and a bit blue. His face was bruised badly. It was nice to be pampered though and have food brought to me all day. It’s amazing how much quicker I recovered with the natural birth compared with Diego, who was virtually painless thanks to the epidural, but left me in considerable pain for weeks after delivery.

The birth hit Diego the hardest the first few weeks. I think he felt especially insecure and vulnerable thanks to this little arrival. It must have been obvious to him that mom and dad weren’t going to pay 100 percent of their attention to him anymore.

On the upside, he’s not going to daycare these next few months and gets to play with mom and baby brother all day each week. Great for him, exhausting for me.

Rafael is seven weeks old now, and is a happy, pudgy baby.

And with big sister Itzul.

Teens and toddlers

February 22, 2008

Having a 13 year old girl and 2 year old boy in the house makes for an interesting dynamic. Luckily teens and toddlers aren’t too different when it comes to certain things. They like apple juice and apple sauce, ice cream, Nutella…anything sweet, really. They like to explore and experiment, want to be independent but also to be taken care of, and to be guided without being smothered. Our teen and toddler can also be quite strong-willed, stubborn, temperamental and prone to overreact.

What I love about them is how intelligent they each are for their age; their silliness and confidence; their contagious energy and sense of adventure.  And how imaginative and creative they both are.

diegoitzul.jpg

Diego and Itzul.

Carlos turns 36

February 22, 2008

My guy is wearing his age well, and doesn’t look a day over 30, so I’m confident he won’t be terribly upset that I’m focusing on his latest birthday milestone for my blog.

The timing of his birthday wasn’t great this year, as it came the month before I have the baby and will be taking several months off work. His birthday present was a new cell phone, a nice one, just not the Blackberry Pearl he really, really wanted. Next year will be better. Or maybe Santa will bring you a Wii?

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At work, each coworker gets assigned someone for their birthday. Carlos lucked out with our coworker Sheila. Not only did she bake goodies, bring fruit and muffins, and brew coffee for us, she marked his birthday with an homage to his favorite basketball team.

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That night a few friends came over to eat sopes and enjoy a little cake. Diego thought it was his birthday and enjoyed blowing out the candles with his daddy.  It was a nice night. Of course the party can only last until it’s time to get the toddler off to bed. Not bad for a Tuesday though. I’m thinking the real party will be when the baby is born, my parents are in town, and Carlos and I can have a child-free night to ourselves.

countdown to baby: 5 weeks

February 19, 2008

I know I’m getting close to having this baby because after my doctor’s appointment tomorrow, I have to start going every week. I’m officially due March 21, but given that Diego was 2 weeks early, we’re getting ready around the house to welcome little Rafael Eduardo.

In case there were any doubts I’m with child at this point…. me-pregnant22.jpg

This is me a few nights ago, forcing myself into a non-maternity shirt. Once this baby is had I am considering burning most of my maternity wear, the five shirts and three pants I’ve worn exclusively all winter.

I got a great deal on a swing/cradle that I think will last us most of the first year. Today I put it together — all by myself! — and it’s now displayed in our living room:

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Finally there is the “nursery,” which is really our bedroom. Our room served as Diego’s nursery in Burbank until we moved to Walla Walla and he got his own room. We have a lot more room to share with this baby, though, probably twice as much. And by the time he needs his own space, we might be looking into a bigger home with a room of his own. Or maybe just a spacious room for the two boys to share. So here is Diego’s old crib and bedding, take two:

crib.jpgcrib2.jpg

There were only a couple of big-ticket items I needed this time around: a double stroller (check), a cradle swing (check), and a changing table/dresser (uh-oh).

I don’t have a place to put the baby’s clothes yet, and I think clearing out one of our dresser drawers will have to do until I find an appropriate changing table. For now, we’re going to use the play pen that we rarely used in our old apartment because there simply wasn’t any room, because it comes with a changing space!

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I’d say we’re pretty close to being ready. Just have to wait for the little guy to be ready also. Hopefully one of my next posts will be pictures of our latest addition to the clan.

ode to donnie

February 15, 2008

A few months ago, the teenager showed up at our house nuzzling a tiny kitty she and a friend had come across. The cat had apparently survived a house fire, or was found under a house that had burned down. Teary-eyed, she begged us to keep him. Being a few months pregnant, I had mixed feelings from the start. We’d been talking about getting a pet, but I had hoped we could wait until after the baby was born to get one.

There we were, face to face with the question. We told her how unfair it was to put us in that situation. She and her friend wanted joint custody of the kitty, switching off every week. We said that wouldn’t work either, that it wouldn’t be fair to the cat (and would be a messy custody dispute should the girls’ friendship waiver).

So we took in little Donnie Darko, or Donnie. Diego loved him immediately, and experimented poking his face and picking him up by the tail. We saw an opportunity to teach our 2-year-old how to be “nice” to a pet and what is “not nice.” (Like the tail flinging).

diegoanddonni.jpg

As Donnie grew, Diego’s toddler influence must have taken over. Donnie became a rambunctious kitty, loving to paw at you and nibble where he could. A few times, he jumped up and swatted playfully, catching Diego’s face and leaving my 2-year-old crying and not understanding the kitty game.

Now, with several months gone, an exhaustive attempt at conditioning with a water bottle, and a good nail clipping later, Donnie is as crazy and wild as ever. Our attempt to domesticate this stray has failed completely. He’s a great kitty, but his eagerness to swat and bite to play has shot my nerves. I had to tend to Diego’s wounded face one too many times. With a newborn joining us in a month or less, I had to put my foot down.

Donnie needed a new home.

Today we’re heading to a no kill shelter where animals are placed in “foster homes” until an adoptive family can be found. The teen still really wants a cat, and we’re all sad it didn’t work out better with Donnie. I think an older, mellow cat would be a better fit for our household.  A nice cat just looking for a good home and less inclined to play with an infant or torment a toddler. I’m sad to see Donnie go, even though I complained the most about him. I hope we did our best raising him, and that he finds a home that will be good to him and let him be the wild kitty he longs to be.

I say 10 weeks, but this figure could sway between 8 and 12, depending on how early or late this baby wants to arrive. Diego joined us about two weeks early, but a beautiful healthy boy no less.

I’m amazed at the differences between this pregnancy and my first, and the different anxieties I’m feeling because of them. With Diego, I wouldn’t dream of having coffee or Cokes. This time around, I practically need a mid-day Coke fix, and my half-cup of drip each morning. I have tried the decaf thing, and only truly apply it when at coffee shops, where their drip seems to be 20 times stronger than what we make at home (or at the office).

I’m also making a lot less healthy choices. No prenatal yoga this time, no walking around with a trusty water bottle. I know I should be sipping on some water instead of finishing my coffee right now, but it’s almost like the baby craves it as much as I do now. Unlike my first pregnancy, I also have a 2 year-old constantly at my feet, or begging to be held or entertained. It’s so draining. Does that count as exercise?

My doctor assures me the baby is developing great and appears to be totally healthy. Time will tell. I’m worried he won’t nurse, and I’ll have to mess with formula. But I’m determined to make this kid nurse, and pray it goes as smoothly as it did with Diego. The thought of nursing another 15 months terrifies me. When will I get to enjoy and finish a full beer? I’m also not planning on introducing solids until the 6 month mark, if I have the pediatrician’s blessing. I’d like to make my own baby food again, but will I have the time?

Returning to work is another obstacle I’m quietly preparing for but won’t actually know the challenges until the day comes. That’s supposed to be July 28, if our finances hold. My strategy is to take both kiddies to day care half-time. That will be like 2 for the price of one, except my day will end closer to 11 or 12 p.m. Then I have the afternoons to write, probably when Carlos gets home. But from the constant rumblings in my belly, we might have another active baby boy on our hands. At least he won’t be mobile for several months after his birth.

new car?

December 7, 2007

We’re going car window-shopping tomorrow, if all this snow melts and we’re not risking life and limb to make it out of Walla Walla. We’re heading to the “big town,” the Tri-Cities, to check out the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV. It is a beautiful car and with seats for seven, the ideal family car/grown up upgrade we’re looking for. I think deep down I know we’ll probably end up with a few years old minivan, but I want to love my car. In my mind it also doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes it just motivates you more to reach for that goal or make it work. Or else you realize what you’re cherishing is not as good a fit for you as you’d thought. Maybe if there’s a good enough offer, we can pull it off. What else are we busting our butts off working full-time for anyway, right?
The teenager has been getting annoyed with us every time we go look at things we know we can’t afford yet. Like Carlos and I really like going to open houses, even thought we have no need to move for probably another two years, when the new baby is old enough to possibly want his own room. But we enjoy seeing what’s out there. Maybe we’ll find an ideal home, at a great price, and it would be silly not to take up the opportunity. Plus I’m just really nosy.

The need for a new car is a lot more imminent than a new house at this point. Our Jetta already feels way too small. Adding an infant car seat beside Diego’s car seat is going to totally consume the back seat and annoy whoever ends up sitting back there (probably me, since the teen has sworn to not sit back there once the new baby comes). Then we’re also left without room for a passenger.

We’ll be doing our Christmas shopping up there as well. We’re being frugal this year, focusing on just the kids and limiting it to three presents for each one (one from each member of the family). On Sunday Carlos is heading to the forest to cut down a Christmas tree with our editor. The permit only cost $5, and we actually got a free one at a raffle at work. Free Christmas tree this year! Just gotta bring your own saw. Let’s hope they each make it home in one piece.