Monday, November 26, 2012


Sadly we had to say goodbye to Judah's nanny now that we've moved away to a new city.  And besides, I feel like it's time Judah had more social interaction with other kids instead of just him and the nanny hanging out all day.

And so begins the daunting search for a good daycare.

The first place I visited was a Montessori daycare/preschool in a really nice neighborhood close to our house.  I don't really know anything about Montessori schools (besides that they're pricey), but I figured it sounds reputable and high-quality.  They probably know what they're doing there, right?

To say it was disappointing is a bit of an understatement.  Really, it was...sad.  It made me crying, on the inside.

Maybe it was the fact that 20 little 2-3 year olds were supervised by only 3 teachers.

Maybe it was the fact that none of them were having any real interaction with the adult supervisors--the adults were just there to make sure no one made a huge mess or did anything physically injurious to themselves or others.

Or maybe it was the fact that none of the teachers smiled.  Ever.  Not ONE the entire 2 hours I was there to observe the class.  Their expressions changed from boredom to exasperation and back to boredom.  I can only imagine how "lively" and "loving" they are when they don't have a prospective client visiting!

For two hours the kids are just left to their own devices.  I saw a chubby boy basically cry and meltdown over and over again for two hours.  I saw one little girl on her own, just holding a doll, sitting on the floor.  I saw one kid, by himself, munching on rice cakes.

But perhaps most disturbing was the 3 kids that came to hang out with me and Judah when they saw that an adult (me) was actually interacting and playing with a kid (Judah).  It's like they were hungering for that kind of positive relationship and kept coming to give us toys and talk to us.

One little girl stared at us with big shy eyes and didn't say a word for 20 minutes.  But she tried to play along with Judah and me and eventually I got her to say her name (Olivia) age (2?) and got some excited giggles and exclamations out of her.  She looked so sad when we left.

Later on, in the second hour, a new teacher came to relieve one of the morning shift teachers.  This lady was awesome.  She smiled, she talked to the kids, she led them in circle songs and actually had energy.  But this is one person in a sea of 20 toddlers.  Not nearly enough to go around.

I'm pretty sure we're not going back here.  I feel a little disheartened.  I mean, for a place that charges about $12 an hour for each kid, you'd think you'd be getting some really top-notch care!  But this place was just so...depressing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Idiots

I think we (the spouse and I) might be 2 of the dumbest people on the planet.

Who the heck thinks it's a good idea to host Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people 4 days after moving in to a new house?!?!

At the time, the spouse and I thought it would be an awesome way to do a little housewarming AND celebrate T-day with friends.  But very quickly we realized--we are truly stupid.

I may be smiling here, but on the inside I'm crying.

Those 4 days or so leading up to Thanksgiving was one of the most exhausting and stressful patches ever.  We could barely find clean socks and floss, much less all the pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, platters and seasonings for real food.  You do the math:  

Thanksgiving dinner prep + 4 days after moving in + 8.5 months preggo + cooking and grocery shopping for 8 hours + 5 completely new recipes + really needy 2 year old = INSANITY (and really sore feet).

Thank GOD for my co-chef who made an amazing turkey and some great sides.

But it was a labor of love and despite the stress, I'm glad we did it.  We love our friends and we love opening our home up for food and company.  What else is a house for really?

Some of our lovely guests who made it all worth it.

But I'm even MORE glad we never have to do that again (i.e., move and host in quick succession)!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wherever You Are

Well, my dear, 10 years (and 1.5 kids) later, we finally bought a house.

Technically, I bought a house for you (for us)--my job having paid for it all.  But that's beside the point.  Who cares about houses?  A house is not a home.

Do you remember our first home?

We were poor as church mice, just married, and oh so ridiculously young.

Remember the awful smelling elevator that brought us to our third-floor apartment--that made me always turn blue holding my breath?  Elevator aside, I loved that space.  There was nothing special about it, but for the fact that you were there.

Our second home was on the opposite side of the continent, in a "charming"  and historic New England flat, again on the third floor.

We found out that "charming" and historic meant no elevators, no air conditioning and old plumbing and radiators hissing steam.

But we got to experience 4 real seasons in all their glory and realized only Fall and Spring are truly glorious.

Our third home was back where it all began for us--another move back to the other coast.

This time, no stairs!  A standalone unit in a wonderful complex--surrounded by urban blight and pollutants from 3 separate recycling plants.  Ah, home sweet home--but not literally as the rotten stench from EBMUD, our waste treatment center, daily wafted by.

It felt so familiar to walk down Telegraph and eat at Durant Square.  But so different...being on the other side of the looking-glass of time and memory.

So much happened in this last much good stuff.

And now here we are, on the threshold of another home--a house in the suburbs, 5 minutes from our choice elementary school, like the fuddy-duddy traditionalists we never wanted to be.  Like our parents before us.

Months of scouring real-estate listings, weeks of closing transactions, 5 trips to the paint store, 8 shades of yellow samples, 235 boxes, and 3 contractors we are.  I can't believe we're moving in tomorrow!

I hope our new house will be a place full of people--big and little.  I hope our new house will be full of grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness.  And full of food.  Food-food and soul-food.  A well used place.

But I know what's coming next--chaos, upheaval, sleep-deprivation, frustration, anxiety and all those other wonderful things that come with a new baby and new home-ownership.  Lord have mercy!

At least we'll be together and we'll be home.  Because home is wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For the Ol' Virtual Scrapbook

Today Judah blew my mind by saying/doing the following random acts:

Judah: Lift your belly, I want see dai-dai!
Me: Okay, here you go.
Judah: Dai-dai, I love you!  My neck hurts, dai-dai, kiss it!
[Judah pushes his neck towards my belly-button.]
Judah: Ah, feel better.

What the heck?!


[Judah eats an orange slice by holding it in both hands and sucking in the middle.]
Judah: Look mommy, I eat it like a watermelon.

What?!  You know about similes?!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratuitous Picture Break

I'm tired.

Getting ready to move is kicking my butt. There are a thousand details, a thousand and one significant expenses, a thousand and two hidden costs, and decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have neither the time nor inclination to be reflective, but I really wanted to post some recent pics.

I love this guy so much.

And this guy too.

I love all-things autumn.

That is all.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Every morning, the first thing Judah says to me is "I want see dai-dai!"

I obligingly lift up my shirt so he can hug my belly and plant kisses on it, all the while squealing "Dai-dai, I love you!  I miss you!"

"Dai-dai" is Cantonese for "little brother" and even though we don't speak Cantonese, he's picked it up from being in the church nursery.

So now, all day long, Judah makes me lift my shirt up so he can 'interact' with dai-dai.  He wants dai-dai to listen to the story he's reading.  He wants dai-dai to watch him play with trains.  He gives dai-dai snacks and drinks and often instructs me, "Don't close your belly!" because he wants dai-dai to see what's going on.

Giving a milk bottle to dai-dai--a favorite daily activity.

Incidentally, everything is directed toward my belly button, where, I suppose, the concentrated essence of dai-dai resides.  Frankly, it's pretty annoying (and now that winter is coming--cold) to be constantly baring my mid-riff.  But who am I to get in the way of some toddler-fetus-sibling bonding?

I've explained to Judah that dai-dai will get bigger and bigger until one day mommy will push him out of her tummy.  He seems to understand and get really excited about that prospect.

I can't wait to pop this baby out and watch Judah's mind get blown.  I'm sure he'll go through the natural feelings of jealous rage when he realizes this kid is going to have all of mommy's attention for a while, but at least for the first few minutes, it'll be pretty freaking awesome!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Oh Yeah, Did I Mention I'm on "Vacation"?

So I'm technically on vacation this week (and the next 5 weeks to come).

But don't start hating cuz it's not awesome at all.

"Vacation" does NOT mean relaxation, going to a fun destination, eating some amazing meals, or even getting a little bit pampered with a mani/pedi.

"Vacation" means packing up years of accumulated crap in boxes, wrangling endlessy with a 'strong willed' toddler, and dealing with contractors who are walking all over my naturally accommodating and compliant disposition.  Man do I hate conflict.  So much so that I may have been known to let contractors charge me an extra $500 for stuff that clearly, according to the contract, they should not.

We are moving into the new house in  T-8 days and it is FAR from fun.

Vacation schmacation.

Monday, November 05, 2012

But Daddy Say No

I'm finding out more about myself than ever before now that I'm trying to parent Judah.

For one, I realize he is a strong-willed child (a la the best-selling book, Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child).

And I, as it turns out, am a weak-willed, naturally compliant doormat.

Very bad combo, this.

Basically, Judah steam-rolls right over my gentle 'suggestions' every time.  Unless he really is asking to risk his life (for example, wanting to use the butcher knife), I usually cave.  At the first sign of his crumpled up face and his high-pitchy wail, I give in.

Okay, okay, you can bring your toy car out (even though I know it's going to be a disaster when you misplace it and cry bloody murder because you can't find it the next day).

Okay, okay, you can play another 15 minutes in the car (even though we're way behind schedule).

You get the idea.  Judah leads, I follow...reluctantly.

Which is why, more and more, I've defaulted to saying, "Why don't you ask daddy?"  Obviously Judah gets his strong-will from the spouse and I'll let the two of them duke it out.  Pretty much 100% of the time, Judah ends up crying and wailing "Daddy say no to me!"

Ah, sweet proxy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Ghost of Halloween Past

O Judah, you lucky lucky boy. (I know, I keep saying that!)

My nurturing little cop with his new favorite toy--his baby stroller!

You had your first real trick-or-treating experience this year, complete with fancy store-bought costume! I hate to keep harping on this, but when I was a kid, I NEVER got to go trick-or-treating (except once in 3rd grade) and I certainly NEVER got to have a store-bought costume.

(Side note--I realize these posts are making it sound like I grew up in some kind of Dickensian poverty. Let me just state for the record--that was totally not the case. We were solidly upper middle-class, nice suburb, great school districts, green lawns and minivans, etc. It's just that my parents had a certain parenting philosophy...that...well, let's just leave it at that.)

I was that sad kid at the back of the Halloween Parade at school that teachers felt sorry for. Bless Mrs. Cole's heart. In 2nd Grade she let me hold the tail of her dragon costume so I could participate without looking quite so...pathetic.

But the truth is, I did have a costume that year.  I woke up that morning and there was a costume waiting for me in the living room.  It was a brown grocery bag with arm-holes and a neck-hole cut out and aluminum foil balls stuck all over it.  It was home-made and I decided I'd rather not have a costume than wear that 'thing' and possibly die of embarassment.

Trick-or-treating with our lovely little ladybug neighbor.

Next to my home-made costume was one exactly like it, sized a little bigger, for my brother. He had stayed up that night to make them for us. I always feel a pang of guilt thinking back on how disdainful I was of his really generous and thoughtful handiwork. In my defense, I was 7! I wanted to be something pink and purple and lovely!

"What is this?" I remember saying "Am I supposed to be a garbage can?!"

"It's a robot," my brother said.

I said something sarcastic and disparaging and trudged off to school without my 'robot' costume.

Argh, looks like this cop lost his cop belt, billy-club and badge along the way.  Oh well.

Oh how I treasure the memory of that sad costume now.

What a cute couple...but what's with the Oliver Twist face?  Please sir, can I have some more...candy?

I guess I was a lucky lucky kid too, in my own way.