space cadet

September 5, 2008

I started this post with the title “dumb blonde” but then decided that might be offensive to some. Space cadet gets the same message across, right? I’m using the expressions to describe my mental state since returning to work. I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought going back to work after almost six months, and having one new baby in the house, would all go smoothly. The hardest part of all this is I have a limited amount of hours each day to finish my work so that I’m still doing full time reporting, getting the kids fed, bathed, and off to bed, not to mention interacting with them and doing the bonding parent-child thing. Then there is the cooking for all of us, dishes, laundry, and at some point, general cleaning. And then it would probably be healthy for me to have a moment to myself, perhaps in the form of a shower or brushing my teeth or hair.

So as a result of being pulled in so many directions, I have been making “space cadet” (dumb blonde sounds so much better) mistakes at my work. I called something in a story recently “Annual Yearly Progress” (it was Adequate Yearly Progress…my take of it doesn’t even make sense) I called “Pachucos” “Pochacos” (that’s not even a word) and have done my usual day switching, saying it is Wednesday when it’s really Tuesday, that type of thing.

Luckily my errors have been noted and corrected on our Web site… but the thousands of copies that go out to people every day? Ouch for me.

I haven’t made mistakes like these since I was first starting to report, several years ago. I’ve grown so proud of getting my facts straight that it destroys me to make such slips. One of my most memorable mistakes from years past was typing “nymph nodes” instead of “lymph nodes” in a story. Our copy editors and editors missed it too. It wasn’t until some reader wrote a letter to the editor thanking me for the chuckle.

But it wasn’t really funny. It sucked for me. Here’s another good one from the past. I referred to something in a story as a quarter mile, when it was actually a square mile. For some reason square made me think of four, and I translated that to “quarter.” It made a big difference in what I was saying.

It’s really tough to be a reporter. The printed word makes it that much tougher. Once all the “send” buttons have been pushed there’s really no going back. It’s set in ink “for the record,” forever, until someone lines a cage somewhere with it. Or makes paper boats like Diego and I did the other day with our days paper. That’s why I’m starting to love the Internet that much more every day. Although it is a great feeling when a story runs error free, to know that you’ve informed the public the best you can.

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.

The teen is back in the house, and back in full social swing. She had some buddies over one day, and spent the night at a friend’s a couple days ago. Last night it was a concert at a coffee shop downtown. After the concert, which got out a bit before 11 p.m., she came home with a friend who was staying the night with us.

It’s always interesting to see the late-night workings of teens around the house. Most of the attacks are in the kitchen. One morning we woke up and found the girls had baked a cake. They’d eaten half of it and the rest was in the fridge. But we’d had lasagna that night, and Carlos had made them hand-wash the baking dish for their cake. In the morning I found a stash of what seemed to be perfectly clean paper towels in the trashcan. Being my mom’s kid, I fished them out of the trash, found them a bit damp, but not smelly or stained in any way. I couldn’t figure out what had happened. Carlos solved the puzzle for me. They’d used a wad of paper towels to dry the baking dish after they washed it. I spread them on the kitchen counters for reuse.

Last night, when Rafael woke up for some late-night/early-morning nursing, I could hear the girls in the kitchen. The lights had been left on, but as I was getting ready to head over there and turn them off, someone flipped the switch. I checked my cell phone and it was right around 3 a.m. I felt a bit of anxiety building up but then remembered it’s summer, they’re 14, and at least they’re at home. So in the morning, there were some new bowls in the sink. Half a pomegranate in the fridge; some of the other half in the trash. Half an apple in the trash. Someone made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And Ramen.

I have a feeling when we head home for lunch at noon, the girls will still be snoozing. It’s a great day for sleeping in, too, because storm clouds rolled in and its a gray, windy, slightly rainy day.

Peter and the Wolf

August 15, 2008

I’m auditioning for a community symphony in two weeks. I guess I could argue that I’ve been playing the flute for almost 20 years now, but the truth would be I’ve only picked it up randomly in the last 10. There was that semester I majored in it in college, but all that theory and composing knocked the fun out of it for a while. I do remember taking it out to show Itzul how to play “Sally’s song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. But even that was a few years ago now.

This all started when we were dropping off Itzul’s rental trumpet to the music store in the big city that’s 40 miles from here. While we were leaving I saw a flyer calling for flutes, horns and some other instrument to audition at the end of the summer for the Tri-Cities Symphony. Some of my fondest memories from high school, and growing up, are playing my flute in a youth symphony. It was so different from playing in the school groups because only the best kids in the area got chosen to play. I played in our town’s symphony, the Glendale Youth Symphony, for three years. Even though I decided not to major in music, despite my teacher’s insistence, it’s something I’ve always thought about pursuing again.

With that said, I highly doubt I’ll make it. They sent me a packet of music to rehearse: Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, Daphnis et Chloe…these are all extremely challenging on the flute…even worse when you haven’t played consistently for 10 years.

The first go at Peter and the Wolf was especially painful. I think the baby cried. Flute is also really really shrill and loud. A few weeks into it and the music started making sense. My fingers woke up and the passages were starting to transcend from seemingly impossible to almost easy.

But now it’s been almost two weeks since I seriously practiced. I need to get myself back in shape if I’m going to go through with this. I’ve decided, though, that even if I’m not totally rocking all the songs for the audition, I’m going to do it anyway so I won’t have any regrets. Maybe they’ll hear some potential in me and I’ll get back something that I enjoyed so much, so long ago.

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:

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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).

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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.