Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 has to go down as one of the most beautiful days I can remember in late November. We started our morning with a family car ride in search of swell, eating donuts and wearing pjs. 

                                   Sal really likes donuts with "sfarkles"

There was no swell to speak of, so we left the beach and headed back to Nonno's to get ready for a day trip to Santa Barbara for thanksgiving dinner.

This year, my uncle and his wife came down from Oregon and got to meet Carla for the first time.

                               Great-grandma Dottie & great Uncle Greg

We had a mix match of family attending, which was nice because we were able to see people from both sides of my family all in one place. Being a child of divorce makes holidays and visiting everyone a marathon, so I am extra Thankful that my family members come together and put the past aside when possible. 

The best part of this Thanksgiving (aside from the BBQ'd turkey and beautiful weather), was having this guy back home in time to celebrate with us. 

                                                   Zentil, party of five

It's crazy to think that next year, one of us will be holding another kid. I look at our family photos from this past year and it's still surreal to even have two living kids in our photos. The thought and reality of adding one more in the next few months both excites and terrifies me. Never in a million years did I think that our journey would lead us here....

I'm just thankful we never gave up hope.

Sharing rooms

We finally did it.

We moved the kids into the same room.

Since our return to the states, Carla has been sharing a room with us (me) while we waded through jetlag and sickness. Once NZ joined us last week, we kept saying to one another..."We NEED to move her into Sal's room". It's been the plan all along, but I just kept putting it off until last night. 

Last night was the night. The crib and changing table found a new home in the corner of Sal's room. I had done some talking about sharing rooms with him prior to the merge, but wasn't sure he fully understood that SHE would be sleeping in HIS room. We made such a big deal about the new room he'd have at nonno's house before we moved back to CA that I was afraid that I may have jinxed a peaceful sharing of the room. 

Such was not the case. 

He welcomed her with enthusiasm. And lots and lots of chatter. 

Until 10:00pm to be exact.

NZ and I went to bed around 10:00 and we listened through our monitor as he chatted away. It was a one sided conversation, as there wasn't a peep from Carla, but the boy went on and on and on until he finally ran out of words. Mind you, bedtime was 7:00 sharp. 

We made it through night one without anyone waking, which was much better than I had anticipated. My morning started out at about 6:30 hearing the sweetest words on the monitor..

"Oh dere you are Caryita. Are you awake?" 

Followed of course by, "Mama....mahhh-mahhh... maaaaaaaaaahma. We awake!" 

And on that note, my Saturday started.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Carla is 10 months old

I'm over a week late posting--for good reason--NZ finally joined us in California after six long weeks away!  We've spent the last week getting him repatriated and I'm just now sitting down to write about our little TEN month old! 

At ten months old, Carla weighs in at 18lbs...and I've already forgotten her height, but she's pretty much right at in the 50th percentile on height and weight. If her food consumption as of late is any indication, she's due for a growth spurt anytime now. She often clears her dinner plate and eats what her big brother has refused (which is usually his entire dinner). New favorite foods have been steak, raspberries, blueberries and cheese. She's jacked Sal's morning sippy cup of whole milk a few times and had no reaction to the lactose, so hopefully we're in the clear of any milk allergies. 

My favorite thing about Carla turning ten months old?


She squats like an old Chinese lady in the middle of the room and then pops right up to a stand with no hands! I'm guessing she stands unassisted for at least 15-20 seconds before plopping back down. We might just have a few steps by eleven months. 


And because of that...the baby gates are up. Well, that and the fact she can climb stairs but has no idea how to get down without trust falling. Let's just say she started to trust fall, and my pregnant butt went to grab her...but lost my step and came tumbling down the stairs almost taking her down with me. That was the end of the "I'll just teach her how to use stairs instead of buying baby gates." 


In her repertoire of over the top cuteness, she has the "bye bye" wave down, makes smooching noises before kisses, and throws her hands up to say "all done". Her big brother thinks he is a dog sometimes, and she giggles and tries to say "woof woof", but it comes as "wuh". Hey, it's a start. 


Carla met one of her great grandma's this month. She's a lucky girl to have two great grandmas to love on her. I'm really thankful that we are living close enough for regular visits. We spent an entire Thursday visiting with both of them up in Santa Barbara. My sister and I made them play assistant for our amateur attempt at a photo shoot for Christmas cards. I'm sure we wore both great grandmas out with our three ring circus. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Is it bedtime yet?

Well, we've finally slowed down.

Last week was pure chaos, with three Doctor appointments, playgroup and school taking up a good portion of each day. I'm not used to being so busy, but it really does feel great to accomplish things. For the last couple of years, I spent more hours on my couch than I probably have in my whole life. Okay, exaggeration--but yeah, my sofa in Wuxi probably has a dent in it from the hours I logged just sitting at home with the kids. I did get out almost every day, but it was different. It was without purpose.

Now that we are stateside and back in my element, I'm able to do things that matter. I'm able to mail off my own package at the post office, schedule, drive to, and complete a doctor's appointment, get groceries, sort out utility's endless. I know it's all normal everyday life, but for me, it's new again. I actually feel like I have more worth. I feel smart again. Being illiterate for a couple of years is quite humbling. 

That being said, my kids, who have not been used to the faster paced life we live in the states--might be feeling it. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself as my two and a half year morphs into his evil alter ego come 4:30 each evening. For two and a half hours, I play referee as he tries to headlock his little sister and steamroll her. If she is playing quietly by herself, he has to intervene. It's maddening. There have been lots of NO's from his mouth and quite a few screaming to the point of choking tantrums over something as simple as me telling him to stop opening and closing the dishwasher door. 

And guess what?

This mama is tired.

I wrote NZ an email the other night admitting that there are days that I count down the hours til bedtime. I haaaaate feeling that way, but it's the honest truth. Somedays, parenting just plain wears me out and bedtime can't come soon enough. I'm sure I'm not the first parent  to feel this way, and I'm probably not the last. Here's to hoping that this phase passes quickly and the tantrums lose their frequency as he realizes that they won't get him anywhere. 

In the meantime.....

Dear Santa, can I have some noise cancelling headphones?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014

I've never been big on Halloween and dressing up. As a kid, my mom made me some pretty cool costumes which I'd wear to the school parade, then by nightfall, change my mind and end up in he old standby ballerina tutu. That had to have happened at least four or five years in a row. My poor mother...slaving over costumes that only saw the light of day for a matter of minutes.

 I love you mom.

                             My UCDavis Aggie & tow truck driver 

This year was my kid's first Halloween in the states. My sister sent Sal a construction worker outfit (which he insisted was a tow truck driver outfit) a week or two ago.I made plans to drive to one of my BFF's in Vegas to spend Halloween with her family. At the last minute, Carla's illness had me cancelling our trip.  Sal started his preschool program on Halloween, so there was a silver lining to our missed trip. As he bounded out of class with a paper bag of trick or treat goodies, I admit to having the thought go through my head of, "good, now I don't have to take him out tonight." 

Terrible, right?


But as the afternoon went on, he kept talking about "trick and treatsing" and I decided to take him over to our neighborhood. He trick and treatsed at four or five houses at dusk, with our neighbor's teenage daughter joining us for the walk. He was one of the first trick or treaters for most houses, so he was greeted by barking dogs (who had not yet been out out back) more often than not. Have I mentioned that Sal is not a fan of dogs? Uhm, yeah. He bolted from the first house and the lady had to come all the way to the street to offer him candy. 

Scarred for life. Or, until the next house.

That's when my son learned about doorbells.

                               Trick of treating at the house his dad grew up in

He would get on his tip toes to press the doorbell, his hat would fall off, and he'd be busy collecting it and balancing his pumpkin bucket when the door opened. It was pretty darn cute....and if the door didn't open right away, he would say, "oh, they busy." and proceed to push it two, three and four times in a row. 

Sorry, neighbors!


All in all, I'm glad we went out. I need to remember to see life through my kids eyes more often. It was truly a treat to watch Sal experience this childhood right of passage into Halloween.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chillin on a dirt road

I love Southern California, but I admit that have a soft spot for Northern California. 

Not only did I spend seven years living in Davis in college and beyond, but my pops also bought property even further north and I've always had such a great time visiting him. The area he lives in is one of those that country songs are written's where the blacktop ends.

My first trip up there was the week after Nick and I lost Denise. We unplugged from reality and spent a weekend riding quads, fishing and drinking beers with my dad and the neighbors. It was just what we needed. We went again after Sal was born, and enjoyed our first helicopter ride overlooking the Sac river and surrounding parcels of land. It was my first (and probably only) helicopter ride ever. 

             Sal's first trip to Grandpa Jets house with his cousin Simon

This time, the kids and I flew up and spent a week and a half with my dad and his longtime girlfriend. I had been looking forward to letting Sal roam free and experience life on a dirt road. Quad rides, dirt digging, feeding horses, playing with the dogs...all of that good stuff that kids should have the freedom to do. 

                                                    Blue skies. I die.

But his favorite part of visiting grandpa Jet and meme? 

                            Opening the workshop up

The garage doors. He lived each day to open and close them. If we drove into town, we spent the next thirty minutes on our drive home listening to him ask to "close the gawage". He also loved riding the quad--and even helped spread manure in the pasture. He was sure to point out where Meme missed some poop. I'm sure she appreciated his supervision. 
                      Riding grandpa Jet's quad   

He proudly fed the horse hay each afternoon, and although skittish at first, he finally came around to feeding the dogs. 

                                "He-whoa, Maggie. I feed you hay"
We went to Turtle bay one afternoon and visited a kids garden. It was the only hot day we had. The rest of the week alternated between rain and sunshine, so we did our share of shopping (they have great second hand boutiques..scored a walker, holiday dresses and shoes for Carla!) and I was even treated to a half hour kid free to get my brows threaded! Bliss!
                            Children's garden at Turtle Bay

My dad came home from work with a surprise for Sal one night. His neighbor was grading their road and had invited Sal to ride along! We hopped in the truck and drove out to meet the grading machine. Sal's eyes lit up at the offer to drive it, but that quickly turned to uncertainty when mama got out of sight. 

                            Driving a real life grading machine

                                       Sunset with grandpa Jet

My aunt and uncle and cousin Simon drove over for a BBQ our last weekend there, and if it wasn't for Carla running a high fever and refusing to eat, it would've been fun. I took Carla to urgent care the day before we flew home and was told she may have hand foot mouth...a common childhood virus that just needed to run its course. 

Poor girl. She's been sick ever since we touched ground in the states. I'm ready for her to catch a break. 

Now it's back to life in Southern California. It's great to be back, but we had a fantastic time up north. 

Teacher & Me

Earlier this week, I checked out a preschool program that I had heard good things about. I had also heard that the slots fill fast, so I entered the office to inquire about "winter" availability...thinking Winter term equated to January.

To my surprise, winter schedule was to begin in just a couple of weeks! And even better, the day/time I was hoping for had openings for Sal.

We visited the teacher and classroom and he lit up. There was a dress up area, an art area, reading area and lots of cars and parking garages to play with. Outside, there were tricycles for each kid  and sidewalk chalk. 


The teacher invited him to join the class or the last few classes of fall term, so we showed up today which happened to be Halloween. Lucky kid. 

From my years of teaching preschool, I knew that a quick goodbye was best, and that no matter what..I couldn't go back in...even if he cried out for me. He would be okay. But to my delight, he was totally cool with me walking out the door after our quick kiss goodbye. 

He made it easy on his mama. 

I returned a couple hours later to find a little boy engrossed in the inner workings of the microwave and refrigerator of the dress up area kitchen. I just hung by the door and observed with a huge smile on my face until he saw me and shouted, "Mama, you came back!" . 

His teacher showed me pictures of his day (they trick or treated to other classrooms) and said he did excellent. 

And just like that, his first day of school is down in the history books.