Monday, February 28, 2011
I'm so used to being tuned into the 100 thoughts of friends/family/acquaintances that to lose access is like cutting off a limb!
While SKYPE'ing with my husband, he logged into my account and informed me there had been no new activity. That's even worse! No one misses me!!!! So fine, I'm on a forced break, grumble snarl spit.
Today's report is I seriously entertained the idea of bringing my kids and husband to Vietnam for 3 months. Don't know if it's delusional thinking from being here alone and wanting the company of my family - I'll likely get home and decide I was quite mad and am staying in the comfort of my own home forever and ever but see that's exactly why I want to try this. If I "stay" inside my comfort zone I'll never have any cool stories to tell.
For example - several years ago, in a land before kids - our friends from Pittsburgh dragged us to the Everglades in deep south Florida. It was a horrific camping experience on the night that it rained, drenched our tent, gave husband bronchitis because his back was to the wet side while I stayed snuggled in the inner sanctum staying mostly dry. We canoed within 5 feet of giant alligators and had a very memorable time.
So delusional or not, if I can talk everyone into supporting me then maybe this little trip will happen. Oh wait - THREE months without Facebook - how will I ever survive!!! I mean, how will the world survive without ME!!!!!!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Woke up to a beautiful day in Japan. Daylight makes everything better. The hotel had an amazing garden built into a hill so that made up for all the room's shortcomings. A short walk in 40 degree weather does tons to boost the spirit!
The Japan airport is a magnificent place for shopping if you are into that - which I'm not but I was impressed with the display. They even had bags with plush toys made of the same fabric as the bag which totally blew my mind - I've been working with plush toys for 10 years so I collect any strange bits and pieces but these came only with the bags which were extremely expensive so I had to settle with photos which I will then try to recreate with my amazing R&D partner here in Vietnam.
Starbucks appears to have been band from the main terminal - which is kinda nice! I found Illy to have excellent iced latte's with liquid sugar. How sweet!!
Photos to be posted once I figure out how to get them off my iPhone.
Battery on my computer is dying so I must go. I did ask hotel service for a converter and the one they brought started smoking as I was breast pumping. I bet that was fun for husband to see me freaking out about a smoking outlet from the other side of the world! Glad I packed extra batteries.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
In the end it all worked out for the best, the flight was half full. I had the middle section all to myself - FOUR SEATS to stretch out on! Watched one movie and slept the remainder of the flight.
Arrived in Japan at 8:30pm local time. Got routed to rebooking station where they had already reprinted my boarding pass giving me a direct flight to Vietnam rather than a trip to Hong Kong and then Vietnam as was previously scheduled. This is wonderful news. I simply wake up tomorrow and actually get to Vietnam at the exact same time as my co-worker coming in from Hong Kong who I was supposed to meet and fly with. Hope that makes sense, I am rather jet lagged.
Being stuck in a country "out of schedule" means American's band together. I found myself standing in a circle with other Texans - some Air Force guys, one contractor who I call Big Tex because he was the tallest and loudest and some guys going on vacation. Almost all had T-shirts and it's like 30 degrees outside. We were waiting for our hotel bus for almost 30 minutes. Glad I had the foresight to pack a wool sweater and hat!
We finally got on the bus and they really crammed us in. Once all the seats are taken, they have center seats that fold out into the aisle so literally we are squished in like sardines. The only sound on the bus is Big Tex discussing his chewing tobacco habit with seat mate. That made me laugh as they discussed tobacco prices from South Korea to New Mexico. I asked Air Force guy why he wasn't in uniform and he said only the newbies travel in uniform. A guy passed us in a shiny new uniform and he says "see?".
Twenty minutes later (they must have really scrounged for this hotel) we arrive at our hotel. It's a tall non-branded building, this means it's likely for locals meaning less familiar accommodations. I get to the room and see my suspicion are correct, no water, nothing in the mini bar, bathroom soap is in a pump bottle - very basic room, it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet (why is the handle on the sink???). Fortunately I bring my own chocolate so no need for mini bar snacks.
I go to dinner with my free coupon and find Big Tex and the Texas crew. We eat together and trade stories. Turns out Big Tex has a law degree, runs an asphalt business and is going to Vietnam to build roads which they truly need. The boys are going to Vietnam for a vacation.
Dinner is hamburger patties with gravy, over cooked broccoli, fries and rice. No choice, it's been prepared especially for flight 175 (so says the sign). It's already 10:30pm so not likely to get anything from the kitchen so I plow through until I'm full enough. As interesting as these fellows are, I'd rather access the internet and let friends/family know where I'm at. Plus I'm behind on breast pumping from sleeping on the plane.
I get back to the room and there is no water to be found. Call room service, no answer. Call front desk and she tells me to use the vending machine, I have no money I reply. Was not planning to spend the night in Japan. I just want room service to send me some water. Use the tap water she replies. Um, no. Send room service please. So they finally arrive with one tiny 8oz bottle! So I send her back for a 2nd bottle.
Japan's not as glamorous as the movies make it seem - at least not in these circumstances.
Friday, February 25, 2011
I get to my plane and struggle to get my bag in the overhead. Gentleman behind me says "why don't you put it back up there and I'll give it a good push". Now I have traveled pregnant with no help from strangers so this type of hospitality is always a little startling.
I sit next to a group of giddy missionarys going to Bogata, Colombia. Blond lady next to me has managed to strap a king size pillow to her backpack! Flight attendant chastises her sweetly by saying, "Honey how did you get past me with all that, you can't sit there with that pile on your lap", she then helps the lady dismantle and stow. I grin watching this unfold, note her Ugg boots and ask how the weather is in Bogata, 60's she replies. I amuse myself envisioning this pretty lady in Bogata with her fancy boots and king size pillow but she's a missionary so I don't mock.
For the entire flight I close my eyes, what a simple pleasure. Those kids had me on the edge of my seat on the trip in. If I closed my eyes for a second Charlotte would scream WAKE UP MAMA!
Finally in Dallas, about to board flight to Narito, Japan. I must be feeling better because I inhaled a giant egg, bacon, potato and avocado burrito! Not to sound melodramatic but I appreciate a good "last" meal before leaving for Asia.
Going dark till I reach Japan.
Still, it's hard to sleep with a restless child, I wake frequently for the next 4 hours.
At 4:30 my alarm goes off and she stays asleep so I sneak my bags out of the room and into the bathroom. Immediately after shower she wakes up crying, her warm sleeping buddy gone. I find her behind the door and hand her off to Mema who is thankfully awake and ready to rock and cuddle.
Fifteen minutes left, rush to get ready, repack bags, eat muffins while pumping. Go out to say goodbyes. My little girl hugs me tight but won't kiss me goodbye. I tell her mommy is going to work for 2 weeks. She looks sad as I hand her to Mema, still no kiss. I turn to leave and she relents for a kiss and gives me a big hug.
Papa, husbands grandfather got up early to drive me to the airport. He's waiting in the truck after already packing my bags. I tell him the story of Charlottes night and he's sad that his great grand-daughter is sick.
I leave knowing my children are in wonderful caring hands.
Next stop - Dallas, TX to catch flight to Narita, Japan (13 hour flight) then switch planes for Hong Kong (5 hour flight), finally arrive to hotel Saturday night HK time.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Bad news, I woke up with a head cold and nothing short of a doctors note is getting me out of going to Asia tomorrow morning. :(
Good news: Mema is taking care of the children while I self medicate with hot bath and hot chocolate.
Mema's doing everything possible to make my one day in Texas as sweet as possible - lunch at favorite Italian restaurant, pedicure and stop at Starbucks. Almost makes the cold seem a tiny matter but I know I'm in a fog because I left the kids bottle at the restaurant and my water bottle at the nail salon :)
Also, to all know don't already know, I work for a toy company and my trip to Asia is to visit the factories.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I have a confession to make - I'm a chronic over planner. It's true! This has never been more apparent than now as I've spent the past week preparing for a two week trip to Asia that starts with me dropping the kids in Texas to their grandparents and ends with me picking them up in Texas. I'm traveling by myself with two small kids! Hold me, I'm scared!!!
In this case over planning may be justified. For trip to Texas:
Sam will be strapped to my chest in a Bjorn carrier so I have both hands free to handle security and wrangle Charlotte.
Taking stroller so Charlotte can be strapped down and I don't have to chase her crazy butt all over the airport. Besides I think I'll get in more trouble if forced to manhandle her onto the plane.
Putting laptop in diaper bag, can't see carrying purse, diaper bag AND laptop bag and can't roll a bag while pushing a stroller!
Taking lunch, PB&J and apple would be fine! Less mess to deal with the better! See, here's the part where I may be overplanning.
Have packed iPod for Charlotte with Pixar buddy songs, season 4 of SpongeBob, family pictures and new toddler apps. If this doesn't work I will be found banging my head on the plane window!
Trip to Asia:
Snacks - homemade pumpkin muffins, Munchies, dove bars, applesauce, tea and cinnamon (try explaining for 15 minutes what cinnamon is to Hong Kong hotel staff and you will carry it too).
2 bags that fit in carry-on including purse which is stored in carry-on until I board plane. I have 3 connections before reaching Hong Kong and that's too many opportunities for lost luggage. I also need to pack small and modular because I have multiple small trips into Vietnam and China.
Carry-on means one quart size bag of toiletries and that will not last 2 weeks so I've shipped a bag to the company's Hong Kong office with extra stuff.
Entertainment is Madame Tussaud on the plane and since I'm flying Cathay Pacific I'll have a TV in my seat so I can get caught up on movies!
Actually haven't had time to execute this plan but I need plugs to recharge phone battery on plane :(
More details to come, and believe me I'll be posting ALOT since I'll have no kids or husband to keep my company.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
When stress is extreme, expect a giant pile of blankets to fall on your head along with spilled milk into the carpet
I'm flying to Asia on Friday - for two weeks. But first I'm flying to Texas on Wednesday to drop the kids off at their grandmothers (leaving husband home to work on projects).
I'm . finally . done . packing !!!!!!!
I'm so tired from packing and considering every possible thing that could go wrong when flying with 6mo and 2 year old BY MYSELF that I'm actually looking forward to the 13 hour flight to Japan BY MYSELF! Followed by a 2 hour layover and then a 5 hour trip to Hong Kong. Guess they are as far apart as our East coast is to our West coast.
Now I only have one day left to freak out about all the things I may have forgotten and try to cram more stuff in (I checked and the main bag is still under 50lbs), call Barnes and Noble and see if they have Madame Tussaud's book in yet, download more stuff from iTunes to entertain self and Charlotte, pack snacks, ship breast milk to Texas, make muffins for trip - yes this is important and and and I'm sure I'm missing something...
Monday, February 14, 2011
What a sweet day! I received a special ring that was hand made by my husband. He took a 2000 Sacagawea coin and turned it into a ring - we were married in the year 2000.
Charlotte received a Toy Story box of chocolates and spent the morning eating them all and saying "I got Toy Story chocowats"
She got tired of the chocolate and gave me the last piece :) such a sweetie pie. I palmed it and set it aside for later.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Friday's I get off work at 1:30pm and enter the fun world of my children. The way this usually goes is both are nodding off for naps - not today! Neither child showed any inclination of napping. So I fed Sam at 2pm and watched Robin Hood while Charlotte played with my iPhone. See - she got "quiet time"! It was only when work called that I had to pause the movie to take a 27 minute conference call and astonishingly the kids were good!
By 3:30 I could see there was no nap happening unless I closed the door on my daughter and let her cry it out and that's no fun! So after checking the fridge for supplies and noticing we were completely out of milk I took both kids to the store.
I was pleasantly surprised to find 3:30 - 4:30 a great time to shop! Someone stopped to help me put my recycling in the cans when they saw I had my hands full with kids. Someone uploaded my entire cart onto the conveyor belt! And throughout the store people were friendly and helpful. What a nice distraction from my daughter's wails for chocolate!! She had swiped a puppy holding kisses and balloon at the entrance and wanted the chocolate the entire way through the store. I didn't buy it, for $15.99 I can't justify the sugar high and 5 minutes of silence it might give me. Besides we have chocolate at home - which she gamely reminded me of and got a gold chocolate coin for being relatively good.
Considering they had skipped naps on me, I meticulously planned the evening to get both in bed by 7pm - IT WORKED!
I think I'll go make an apple pie!!!
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Adventures in breast pumping!
Prior to the trip I made a stop at Publix for 1.5lbs of dry ice and put it in the deep freezer over night to stay cold. The next morning I put it in a cooler to hold my collection of milk throughout the day.
The day started at 4:30am. I showered, ate, pumped and left by 5:55am. By 9am we had arrived in Orlando and stopped at a Starbucks where I pumped in their bathroom. It was actually very convenient because the changing table was located next to an electric outlet so I was able to set up on the table with my equipment.
Meetings were had from 9:30 - noon. We ate lunch at Wolfgang Puck's at Downtown Disney and afterwards while my team walked the stores of downtown Disney looking at our products I slipped into the handicapped bathroom to pump again. I found they also had an electric outlet. I did come prepared with batteries but it was nice to find electric as a backup.
Our second meeting started at 3 and was followed by a walk through Universal Studio's new Harry Potter theme park. That's right! Our buyer let us take an hour stroll through the new Harry Potter park. I may not be a huge fan but the detail is incredible and the products are outstanding. I bought my husband a Pumpkin drink for his Halloween collection and we got to ride the interactive broom ride. Really cool.
After the park we had dinner at J. Alexanders and while waiting for our food I slipped off for my final pumping of the day at 7pm. This was a little longer than my usual 4-5 hours but I allow for occasional extensions when necessary. I just don't let it happen every day. Once I was finished food had already been served!
In summary I pumped 3 times and no one was inconvenienced! It was a fun day and other than missing the kids completely and getting home at 11pm it was a very fun day.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Bird stabs man: A man was killed by a chicken at a cockfight in California after he was stabbed in the leg by a bird with a blade attached to its beak. The blade apparently severed a major artery in his right calf. The man, Jose Luis Ochoa, was fined $370 last year for owning and training an animal for fighting.
Today at work:
Sunday, February 06, 2011
We finally have Sam really settled in a daily routine and he's even up for eating 2-3 solid meals a day so this leaves a glaring light on our continuous problem of getting Charlotte to eat food.
I guess it's our fault as parents for not having stricter meal times. I realized this as I spoke to another dad. I mentioned we were having eating problems with Charlotte and he said his wife was very strict with meal times, everything was on a regimented schedule and I got to thinking - their boy at 4 years old has turned out very polite and a joy to be around at the dinner table - but he's still very picky and doesn't eat much variety. I don't care any more about the picky aspect, I just want her to be polite at the table!!! How do we train our daughter to be a joy at the dinner table?
So I took that little nugget and have spent the last 3 days enforcing meal times. As recent videos have shown we've had major misses and major hits. For example, I wrote the post below as Charlotte took her afternoon nap. When she woke up she willingly sat at the table and ate an entire bowl of applesauce AND asked for more!!! I was astonished to say the least.
She sat for 4 meals yesterday. Today it's been 2.
We continue to get aggressive and passive meals and one thing we are tired of is sitting through an entire meal with screaming. Honestly it's just completely unacceptable and there has to be a way to show her this is totally wrong without screaming back or giving in and letting her down.
This morning husband employed a strategy I've never seen before. At breakfast Charlotte started freaking out by rocking back and forth wildly in her chair and screaming "no breakfast". Husband picked up the entire child and chair and put her in the dark in the bathroom for 2 minutes. She came back saying "Charlotte sad" and ate 1/2 a piece of french toast and drank a little orange juice.
For lunch we had the same resistance, she pushed her food bowl and drink roughly onto the table while screaming "no lunch". This time it was the dark laundry room for 2 minutes. She came back and ate some fettuccine sauce on elbow noodles with apple juice.
No force was used and no parents yelled, we simply put the food in front of her and asked her to eat one bite, she usually realizes it's a food she likes and willingly eats more.
We now have a weekend of consistent meals at the dinner table and hopefully going forward we can maintain this momentum.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
This morning -
She ate one bite of one scrambled egg and announced she was done. I knew things would be bad from there. An hour later as I sat with Sam while finishing my breakfast she walks over and bonks him on the forehead with a tiny kid sized pink gardening bucket! Immediate timeout in the corner until she apologizes, then I show her Sam's head and tell her she gave him a boo boo. She's sorry and gives him a hug.
About a half hour later she finally agrees to eat some banana bread and a tiny sip of milk.
I finally get Sam down for a nap and talk her into going outside for a walk but she refuses shoes. The rule is no shoes, no outside. So I take the dog out to do his business and she runs past me without shoes. Sigh! I follow her down the path and her wildness takes her around the entire lake - barefoot - 1/3 of a mile! I let her run ahead. Somehow the dog runs after us, realizing a walk is being had but for some glorious reason he's not on a leash meaning he has total freedom to sniff everything along the way. I oscillate between dog and child - out of control yet everyone within barking distance of my voice.
We get back and Sam's still sleeping - my nerves are frayed from being out of distance of his voice while letting his wild sister run through her wild energy swing.
We return to play on the porch with sidewalk chalk and that keeps her satisfied for a half hour but when I bring Sam out after he wakes up she feels the urgent need to get my attention and begins to chalk up the chair, breaks a piece deliberately then runs inside to work on the furniture so I confiscate all chalk to screams and howls. I promise to give it back if she behaves and she does.
My mom calls while I balance Sam in one arm and we talk for awhile, Charlotte playing nicely with her chalk.
We eventually make our way back inside so I can feed Sam and make lunch. She howls bloody murder when I change her clothes and diaper. I'm not sure anything pleases her these days!
Finally get lunch ready, Charlotte eats a few bites and announces she's done. I can't imagine how she gets full! I go to feed Sam and she stands all over his high chair trying to watch and participate. I agree to a point but no touching his face.
Finally it's time for her nap, I take her in the bedroom, replace all the clothing she's somehow removed in the last hour, turn fan on, close blinds and sit down to rock her to sleep. She leans over and spits on my arm. Disgusting - she knows we hate that. We've been counseling her on spitting for the past week. So I put her in bed and immediately leave.
I'm sure these are the moments I might even miss while in Asia but it's also going to be nice to take a little break. I'm not sure her grandmother will get the brunt of these behavior issues since I think she will be too distracted with other family in Texas. I hope she's better for Mema anyway!!!
January 2011 I vowed to make a difference. I was going to send out muffins every week to brighten someone's day. Well I managed two and that's okay!
I sent muffins to the first person who answered my Facebook message (see below post). Her response was priceless!
I also made a loaf of cranberry bread for a former co-worker, had to stay up late to do it but her thankfulness was so sweet, it made it all worth it.
I just got some awesome muffins in the mail today. :o) Hmmmm.... was an awesome snow day surprise! You are just amazing! Thank you!
The 3rd thing I did in January was to send letters to my Compassion girls. I've created a template in Word that allows me to place current photos of my kids along with text on one column, leaving room for the Spanish translation on the opposite side.
The 4th thing I did was to send a toy package to a women who's house had burned down over Christmas. I learned of her situation through another blogger. Here's the challenging thing, it took me THREE WEEKS to get this package assembled and mailed! Again, as I illustrated with the muffin story below, it took more than a supreme effort to get this package mailed.
First - I had it all together by the 8th, then someone in my office disassembled the box and put everything away in a fit of cleaning!
Second - I realized the $10 gift card I had slated to send said "congratulations", whimper, I can't send that to someone who's house just burned down!!! Back to Target 2 weeks later to exchange it. Sigh!
Third - by the third week of the month I had blown through our entire budget for Miscellenous so I could no longer afford to ship the box. So I returned the one toy I had bought to make room in my budget to ship the box. :(
Finally by the end of the month I had gift card replaced, found an entire box of toys in the office (I work for a toy company), written a note, and finally shipped the box on the 31st.
Why is it so hard to do good deeds??? If it was easy would I do more of them? Or do I need to "feel" it?
See, the last few years I've given a great deal of money to charities but I don't "feel" it. Once it's budgeted in and sent out, I don't even notice it's gone. It's like - once I've bought anything and paid it off I no longer "feel" the pain of buying it. But this act of "doing" something for others that takes TIME and PLANNING - well it's making a dent in my mind.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Kids and husband are off to the pediatrician for Sam's 6mo appointment. I'm guessing he's reached 17lbs. This boy is huge! All from mama's milk - a personal accomplishment. However, the baby vacation is over and I need to get back on the international travel circuit.
Would you believe it's been 2 years since I was last in Asia? It's been so long that I forgot to make sure I had a special visa before booking a trip straight into Vietnam! Yes if other wiser travelor's hadn't alerted me to the fact I'd have shown up in Hong Kong without permission to enter Vietnam.
Would you believe I didn't know the commonly known fact that you are not supposed to travel with a passport that expires in less than 6 months? Yes, Ms. International traveler who's been to Asia 8 times did not know that. Thanks to the helpful folks at the passport agency I've been informed and spent a day filling out paperwork, getting updated passport photos taken and FedEx'ing the package to Miami for express service. Which means I renewed the passport, only to get it back next week and then refile for the Vietnam Visa! Wowzers (wish that was really a word, I'd make a killing on Scrabble).
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
This was achieved with no afternoon lunch - her choice so she was really hungry by the days end. I keep saying she'd be great to take on a missions trip to Latin America or Asia because she loves plain rice!
Do you feel starting a blog has improved your life or added one too many things on your plate?
1. Staying connected with a wide variety of friends - some I've known for many years (at least two going back to um birth? we grew up in the same church), others from high school and college. I live far far away from my lovely friends, some I haven't seen in longer than I care to remember so this is a great way to let them know how I'm doing and receive a little interaction in return.
2. As a working mom, I'm really busy! No really!! My weekends are entirely spent with children since I don't see them much throughout the week (that one hour in the evening goes really fast). I'm trying to open myself up to seeing friends on the weekends but it's a tough balance. So I have to say this blog has become a brilliant way to connect with other moms out there. Get feedback, commiserate, share, etc.
3. This blog has introduced me to such a wide variety of cultures, beliefs and education choices which is awesome because life is never stale with variety!
4. I've met a brilliant caring nurse through this blog who's become close enough that I was able to call her throughout my last pregnancy to get advice, once even in the middle of the night when I broke out with mastitis and she sent me straight to the ER - she was up all night with her young son and did tell me to call any time!
5. Writing skills have improved which is an asset to my career!
6. I'm going to Hong Kong in a few weeks during which I've planned to meet up with a home school blogger mom I've been reading for 3 years. How cool is that???
7. My mom reads my blog and therefore gets updated on many of the details I forget to bring up in our weekly conversations. I think that's pretty awesome!!!
So I'd have to say yes this has definitely enhanced my life!
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
For the remainder of the day, Charlotte continued to refuse all foods. This child has iron will! She only asked for juice and gummies. Sugar sugar sugar!!! So to the person who said - she will eat when she's hungry - not yet! She was hungry and didn't eat. Stubborn beyond all sense of reason.
A typical day is 8oz of milk in the morning, followed by light snacking of our breakfast - some days more than others. Pedisure around 1pm, light snacking throughout the day (meaning a few bites of cheese, crackers, and bread) and 8oz of milk before bed.
Oh and she does know how to eat with a spoon and demonstrates with great care and skill on occasion but today we continued to offer the spoon because we are just determined to get her to eat one way or another!
We honestly have no idea how she manages to continue growing but the doctor said she's healthy and has a little belly and is meeting all milestones. But honestly this situation is getting beyond exasperating.
So to further enhance her hunger we are planning to eliminate morning milk to squeeze a real breakfast in. This means we actually have to make an effort to wake up before 7am and prepare a full breakfast. So what am I doing on here??? I should be sleeping!
Charlotte, not wanting to watch Rugrats is screaming "NO RATS"
Just so you know, this is food she has enjoyed on other occasions. We are not monsters.
And finally, Chinese New Year started yesterday, which means our Asia offices are closed for 2-3 weeks thus meaning I get no development emails and can leave work at a reasonable time! Hurray! Time for more baking and photo projects!