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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The birth of my 2nd child made me lazy

It's true! Ask Charlotte. She will tell you outdoor time on weekends came to a stand still exactly one year ago today. I declared Memorial Day 2010 the end of our days outside because I was 7 months pregnant and it was too hot to go outside until the end of summer.

Technically speaking - summer never ended - we do live in South Florida, but there was a time in winter when it became less hot. Somewhere in the need to keep newborn fed every three hours, which changed to every 4 hours but still needing morning and afternoon naps I lost the ability to pack up the kids and head outside for the day. This has come back to haunt me all month. Starting with camping in the Keys.

Oh that's right, I did tell you I was going camping in the Keys and then never bothered to write about it. That's because it was a horrifically hot experience that we were totally unprepared for! Sure we had the awesome 10 person 3 room tent, baby chair, sunblock, insect spray, food for 7 days for a 3 day trip, beach gear, kids toys, water, etc!!!! It didn't matter, it was so hot by 10am we were miserable! We spent every day from 10-5 in K-Mart, McDonald's or some indoor shelter. Evenings were lovely with our dear friends but day times were like a battlefield of keeping kids happy and comfortable.

This past weekend I declared it time to take both kids on a canoe ride. Never mind we haven't been on a canoe since before Charlotte was born - over 3 years ago! We used to canoe frequently BC (before children) and suddenly realized it was time to get back outside.

We were met with initial shock and confusion, two kids clinging to me. Then Charlotte moved to the other end of the canoe and seemed content to sit with dad provided graham crackers were made available.

Sam refused to wear his brand new life jacket, I know this because had a very hard time drinking his bottle and cried until I took it off. I get it, you try drinking a bottle in a straight jacket. He stayed happy while a steady stream of crackers and toys were provided.

Charlotte on the other hand deteriorated to a puddle of gloom and utter despair! Every remaining minute was filled with moaning and agony.

This was the mid-point of the trip and in my head I screamed at my husband to ROW ROW ROW, ROW FASTER! We need to get back to the dock and off this boat!

Sam got bored with the sunblock bottle and demanded to be tipped towards the water so he could run his hands through. I'm sure it was cute, but couldn't justify stopping husband from rowing to take a photo.

Charlotte remained stoic in her defiance of having any sort of fun.

We finally returned to the dock to find boats had taken up the entire docking area and we had 4 feet to fit our canoe between two boats. I've always said boaters are a strange folk and no I don't count canoes as part of that gang. They are all outside of their boats just wallowing in the water like water buffalo, one guy throws an anchor our way as if totally missing the fact that a family of 4 is riding in a lowly canoe - we must be invisible on a fake boat.

We wiggle our way through the boats, husband hauls us to shore and we stumble back to the lodge to pay for our adventure and hopefully save the day and Charlotte's mood with ice cream and water. It works, she's back to her happy playful bouncy self after one ice cream bar, potty break and shade.

I tell my husband, don't give up, we just need to redo these things every weekend until they become fun!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I've got a little history of making red, white and blue desserts. This year, vanilla cupcakes with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. A very basic strawberry/blueberry shortcake!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Best Meltdown to date!

It's been a long time since we had a really good meltdown on the walk around the pond outside our front door. Before Sam was born it was a regular occurrence, I have the battle scars to prove it - mentally at least. Tonight I had an inkling it might come up again - starting with Charlotte getting her hair tangled up in a hand fan.

It was bound to happen, hand fans should not be in the hands of children, I'm sure a random label was applied to the packaging. It all happened so quickly, she was having so much fun spraying her brother in the face and he was enjoying it too. I turned to look at a plant and looked down to find her squawking in the same high pitched squall she uses for everything showing me a bottle attached to her hair - I really wish she'd reserve a noise for actual emergencies, I'm already learning the art of tuning her out. Okay you listen to a two year old repeat "Sam Stop It" 50 times and you will learn to tune her out too. So after cutting her hair off the fan and noticing Sam covered in water, big bad mom confiscated the fan leading to much crying drama.

Seeing the rain had finally stopped, I initiated The Walk. Charlotte wanted to take her super small wooden tricycle around the lake. Not in the mood to talk her out of nonsense I agreed only to find two blocks later it was "too small" in her words so I carried it back while pushing Sam in the stroller. We collect the big tricycle and take off again. Three blocks later (1/4 of the way around the lake) she gets tired of the tricycle and refuses to drive it the remainder of the way. She's in that mood that says if we try to turnaround without completing the loop around the lake she will melt down. So we park it next to a light post and continue - quite happily!

We return home, pick up the dog so that his leash can work as a pulling device for abandoned tricycle and take off again - mom, Sam in Stroller, Charlotte and dog. It is typically for us to go around 2-3 times.

First she wants to help push the stroller, then walk the dog, then she's done walking the dog and wants to reattach the leash to the stroller but doesn't know how so she takes off with the dog.

Oh look,we've found the tricycle, it's right where we left it!

Overjoyed to be reunited with tricycle she takes off with dog's leash attached to the handle bars and promptly gets his leash stuck in the wheels. His looks says even with an adult rider this might be a bad idea. I confiscate the dog's leash and explain to a furious 2 year old why it's necessary.

Realizing I have too many objects, pets and little people to get back to the house I decide to force a volatile 2 year old into the duel stroller, hope she doesn't hit Sam and strap her down. I release the dog from his leash, use it to tie to the tricycle and pull that while pushing stroller back home. Somehow dog follows, not sure why he didn't make an escape from this crazy family while he had the chance.

Home to heaving sobs, hysterical little girl and totally clueless mom. Do I punish her? Put her in bed, timeout chair? The answer comes as I take her out of the stroller. She's heaving and apologizing for making me mad so I just sat down and cuddled her until she calmed down. Somehow I understand what it means to be irrationally upset and unable to calm down. I feel bad for my little girl. It must be so challenging to have strong opinions and be unable to convince adults to do things your way. Even with advanced communication skills it can be impossible to convince other adults to do things your way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random Tuesday


Observe parents ignoring their baby.

This went on for the entire time we ate our lunch. Mother would reach in to throw toys at baby, or pull down batty toys from the stroller roof. Baby got louder and louder and louder.

I almost offered to hold their baby while they ate. I get it, parents just want to have lunch! Is that to much to ask???

Don't know why I found this so amusing.

Probably because at this moment another blogger is posting a video of me doing something equally dismissive with my children. What's that? You are shrieking because you want down from the cart? But you just asked to get into the cart 60 seconds ago.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May everyone be as blessed as I when it comes to making soup from scratch

Wow what a great soup! I stood in my kitchen at 7pm with a howling baby and 2 year old determined to take her tricycle around the pond before bed. I had 10 minutes to throw something together.

Base for soup - 1 quart chicken broth
Veggies - 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 1 cup frozen corn and 2 cans diced tomatoes
Spice - 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Meat - 18 meatballs and 2 teaspoons of beef buillion

If I had more veggies in the fridge it would have ended up more a veggie soup but as it was, the above was the best I could come up with since fresh basil was rotting and squash was molding.

Walk away for an hour to walk 2 kids and puppy around the pond. Along the way meet up with neighbors who also have 2 kids roughly the same age as mine and a small well behaved dog. The only thing missing was my husband who was back fixing the kids bathroom fan and painting the walls Buzz Lightyear purple.

Best soup ever!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's a big week for Charlotte!

She started potty training on Tuesday! We've finally gotten all trips out of the way, including camping or we would have started sooner.

Status - she seems to love it! No accidents until Friday and that was a matter of Poo which she hasn't quite figured out also needs to go into the potty. She was very upset with the accident so I'm hoping the next time she will use the potty.

In addition to her new found potty freedom, she's been helpful with Sam in pointing out all the things he's not supposed to get into - dogs food, dog's water, dog's bed - all things she has learned to not get into. See husband? Training does work - it just takes a ton of repeating effort!

Just now while I was rocking Sam to sleep, she ran in to collect his finished baby bottle and whispered into my ear that she'd take care of it. I then heard her pull a big chair into the kitchen and upon coming out, found her doing dishes!

What a great week of firsts!

Sam please stop eating dog food and hurling yourself backwards

We are sorry we dropped you on your head (one of your parents, who shall not be named because it could have easily happened to either of us). But hurling 20+ pounds of baby weight backwards unexpectedly will cause gravity to bring you to the carpet. I hope you've learned that babies can't fly. Please don't do this again.

And please stop eating the dog's food. I'll try to remember to pick it up every time I put you on the floor.

What kind of stubborn woman cuts open an avocado when it's not ripe?

This one, the one writing this. I happen to love avocado and is it my fault it's taking too long to ripen? So I open it even knowing it's not ripe. Hoping I'm wrong actually. I'm not, I've been eating them too long to be wrong. So I sit here eating a not ripe avocado while Charlotte brings me small cups to drink imaginary water from. At least the mango/rice/shrimp eaten with not ripe avocado were delicious.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I used to think

When I was in college, I thought a high paying job was the answer to everything!  I was convinced that I'd pay off my college tuition in 10 years - I graduated in 2000, still owe 25K!  What happened?  We bought a house, three vehicles, traveled, had 2 kids and got busy with life!!

Another thing I was always convinced was that we'd be able to put our kids in private school if I just a good paying job.  In 2003 we lived in California and my boss pitched the idea of moving back to Florida.  Yippee I said, I'll be able to put my future kids in school at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale!!  Then I had kids and I finally looked at the tuition.  Maybe if I stopped paying tithe I could afford it?  No, I can't do that.  Is the tuition really up to 10K per year by high school???  Panic, we already have two kids, shouldn't we use that money to pay down our mortgage?

Then I start wondering what kind of people can afford to put their kids in that school.  Very rich people I assume, or people not paying tithe.

How can I, a Director making a very decent salary not be able to afford to send my kids to a private school?

I struggle with this.

I read about children in Nepal who do not have enough food to eat and I wonder how I can even consider paying exorbant prices for education when so many are hungry in the world.

I want to leave Florida and go back to the little town I grew up in, put my kids in the very cheap $1,500 per year school I grew up in (less if you volunteer).

I tell myself, be patient, stop judging random strangers, Charlotte is almost 3, you still have 2 years left before she's in school.  Wait on the Lord.

Psa. 27:14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Multitude Monday

127.  I'm thankful for simple dinners, like Mac N Cheese with potato wedges.
128.  A little boy who smiles every morning when he sees me.
129.  A little girl who bravely tries potty training and works hard to impress her daddy.
130.  Doctors who are vigilant.
131.  Special friends who care enough to throw a party for me just because they like me :)
132.  A mom who gets excited about special events in my life.
133.  Brothers who come to my events just because I asked.
134.  That I can afford gas.
135.  Vacations in the Keys with wonderful friends.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday the 13th

Sam, you decided to OWN this day. Before I even left for work you managed to get two of your sister's Squinkies into your mouth - to those who are unfamiliar with this toy it's a tiny figure smaller than a quarter.

After seeing one pop out of your mouth I fished around and found a 2nd in your chubby cheeks.

Friday was a short work day, I was home by 2:00pm to pass your father who left for work. In the next 30 minutes you managed to find a tiny pink button on the floor and pop it in your mouth, followed by a small wedge of wood and a fishing expedition in the dogs water bowl. You then went on to tip over the trash can and root around for more stuff to eat. I swear we feed you, the doctor says you are 20.75lbs at 9mo.

Desperate to keep you from ingesting small items I finally parked you on my lap while I quickly searched for an email on our new laptop. With lightening fast speed you lunged for the keyboard, removed the letter Z and popped it in your mouth!

You son, are on notice!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Linking to awesome working mom blogger Julia @ Work, Wife, Mom, Life, this weeks prompts are: #1- Do you typically run early, on time, or late?

I run late for everything - work, church, flights, meeting up with friends - everything!!! I'm trying to get better but it's chronic problem of planning too much in one day. Maybe if I had less to do I'd be on time?

#2- A major boo-boo... A time your child/baby got hurt... and how you were a little more careful next time.

Recently I was in the doctor's office and they have this list of short movies to watch while waiting. One was child proofing. It only suggested the following:
  • Make sure crib does not have blankets or soft toys that can smother a child
  • Cover electrical sockets
  • Make sure crib bars are correct width apart so baby can't get his head stuck - um really? I think these days cribs are really tight on safety measures!
Nothing was listed by which Charlotte's managed to get her self hurt with:

1st major injury - under 1
* We had a room divider pressed up against a wall, just waiting to be taken out to the garage. Charlotte rammed it with her walker and it fell straight down on her as she backed furiously out of the way, just bonking her on the head as it fell.

2nd major injury - 13mo
* We had this hanging plant in her bedroom and every day the leaves got a little bit longer until one day she finally reached up, tugged on a leaf and the entire thing came down on her head. Sad photo here.

3rd major injury - 18mo
* Sitting at dinner with friends, Charlotte was on the chair next to me and probably lurched to get down, got a shoe stuck and plummeted head first to the floor, I caught her by one foot before she landed. I received applause from the table, and probably redeemed myself for earlier two infractions.

I'm sure there's been more but these stand out the most in my mind.

At this point, Sam's 9mo and has had ZERO injuries. Maybe we got better at parenting?

Monday, May 09, 2011

How are Women treated VS Men in Asia?

Question from Crystal @ Taking a Chance on Baby

I'm curious what it's like to be a Western Woman working in your position here in Asia. As a stay at home mom I see a very different side than I imagine you do. Are you treated with deference (as I sometimes am because of skin color and implied privilege) or is it quite sexist (see a billion different examples of sexism inherent in Asian culture)? Are you treated differently than male co-workers?

Interesting question Crystal. In the past 10 years, 9 trips, I've plowed through my work much like a bull in a china shop (my boss's description of me). I've butted heads with past male co-workers who did not like my tone - I can be shrill when something is wrong - or maybe it wasn't my tone of voice but my absolute refusal to back down in any argument. Black is black, when plush is wrong it's very very wrong. I've had to learn to be more diplomatic in personal interactions or I'm perceived as too aggressive.

I remember one guy in particular who I butted heads with constantly. Everything I requested would result in an argument - it could be a simple question like - why do two different Toy Story packages have different colors when they come from the same style guide and he'd defend the vendor! Just fix it!! It's wrong, so fix it! Well you can see my attitude needed some adjustment.

In recent years, we've opened our own Hong Kong office and it's run by a very strong woman general manager. Since she's taken the helm, I've not had one problem with a male co-worker. I guess she only hires men that she can manage well and the guys are all extremely pleasant to work with.

In general, when I visit new factories I believe I'm treated with respect but not with an overabundance of deference. The plush world seems to have many women leaders and I'm treated as an equal. In my recent trip, the women factory managers were extremely helpful in offering me places to breast pump. I was very thankful to be surrounded with women leaders on this trip!

Now the question about being treated differently than male co-workers is only different in what is offered. Business men are still offered bribes by factory owners (cash), I've yet to meet a business women who has been offered or accepted bribes. Business men are still sent to karaoke clubs which seem to masquerade as a place to meet easy women. Business men are still expected to drink with factory owners. I've not been offered or pressed to do any of these things - much to my relief! Although I did read an excerpt from Carly Fiorina's story where she was on business in South Korea and felt compelled to drink with the men in order to get the business but she learned to dispose of a portion of the drinks with the help of a kind waitress. Personally I don't think any business is worth that effort!

I've had success in getting through development issues over the past 10 years. Factories have followed my suggestions for improvements, changes have resulted in bigger business which makes everyone happy. In summary, people will follow a leader who has a successful track record.

Please note these are simply my observations and written with the highest respect to my co-workers who have treated me with complete and utter kindness. I adore visiting Asia in part because the people I visit make the trip an absolute pleasure.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Earlier this week husband set up the tent to make sure all the parts work. Kids had fun.

Mother's Day 2011

2009 Family Reunion

To date this is my favorite photo of us together.

I have no secrets, my mom reads this blog. What can I say that she doesn't already know about me? Well I guess I can tell other readers that she was a great mom! And I can share some of the really great stuff she did with my two brothers and I.

* We used to visit a Mennonite farm and get fresh milk once a week. We'd play with the little kids that lived on the farm and help mom press all the cool gadgets that released the milk. As an adult, I think it's important to know a little bit about how milk is processed and where it comes from. Seeing the cows, riding down that long lane, seeing the farmer with his wife and kids. It's a nice memory.

* My mom has been a school teacher for almost 50 years. This means she had summers off with us every year. She took us to various farms to pick strawberries and other fruit. We had our own garden both our parents put us to work pulling weeds, planting seeds, picking food when it was ripe and canning or freezing it. I remember pitting cherries for hours. I got tired of it and would occasionally throw in a few with the pits still in. We must have canned enough cherries for years because every year after that, when mom would make a cherry pie, it would have a few pits in it.

* When I got lice - several times - my mom would make me sit at the kitchen table and laboriously comb through every strand of my hair. I had thick hair, down to my waist! This was no easy task!!!

* She made Lasagna for every birthday because it's my favorite food.

* She taught me how to bake and cook from a very young age. I bake today without much effort. I get really confused when people tell me they don't know how to bake, then I remember baking with my mother every single weekend. Pies, cookies, donuts, breads, etc. It's second nature. And you should see the stuff my younger brother makes! He's like a 5 star chef with his cookies, home made ice cream and candy!!

Having mom as a teacher was a priceless gift in getting summers off with her. Even as we got older and had busy schedules with our friends in the summer, we could always come home to a kitchen buzzing with good food and a loving happy mom.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!! You are priceless.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

From 5 Star Hotel to Camping?

In Asia I live in 5 star hotels, in my personal life it's more like La Quinta Inn and Camping with facilities.

Our Pittsburgh friends are back in Florida and we have been invited to go camping in Bahia Honda, Pine Key Florida!

Last year we stayed with their parents in Cape Coral, Florida, Charlotte was 18mo, I was 3+ months pregnant with Sam. They took it easy on us, we did a day boat ride, trail walk and beach trip. Easy peasy.

2009 we stayed with their parents in Cape Coral, Florida, Charlotte was 9mo. We went to the pool, beach and overall took it easy.

2008 we stayed with their cousins in Melborne Beach, Florida. I was 7mo pregnant with Charlotte. We went to the pool, beach and took it very slow. Good thing because Charlotte was born 4 weeks later!

2007 we went camping in the Everglades. There were alligators AND crocodiles - one of the few places in the world that has Salt Water and Fresh Water allowing both beasts to congregate in the same area. We went canoeing right past the giant lazy beasts, they ignored us. We slept in a tiny barely water proofed tent that got damp from the moisture in the air at night, then got soaking wet from a horrifying rainstorm in which we huddled in the center and still got wet on our backs. The following morning freezing cold beyond what we'd packed. Husband's shoes got wet. He got bronchitis. Buzzards fought with raccoons over our food supply in the early morning hours. Husband fought them off with his belt, likely taking out a nights worth of frustration on the ugly birds. I annoyed him further by sitting in the tent with the only dry blanket saying "me Squaw, you big Chief", as he made the fire. I'm sure he was thinking, get up and help me! I'm freezing out here!!!

One might say we had children just to avoid camping with our friendly Pittsburgh duo? Ah no, but it was quite kind of them to let us get a few years of parenting under our belts before returning to the wild outdoors of Florida. And let's face it, the Florida Keys are not nearly as primitive as the Everglades!!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Random Tuesday


Oh Random Tuesday! I've missed you! And all the cool people who surf through my blog on this day. Thank you Stacy for the new link and way to keep us all connected!!!

Let's see what random stuff have I been up to?

* Got sick last Thursday and stayed home 3 work days! Yeah for me, it was like a sick-cation! Home with the family for 5 days straight including the weekend. To be honest, I'm kinda ready to go back to work!

* Washer broke on Saturday and we got to relive the glory days of college by taking our laundry to the laundry mat. Only this time we had a vehicle to drive 5 loads and didn't have to carry it all in dad's army bag on our backs! Better times!!!

* Washer got fixed on Monday, who knew it could be so easy? I thought for sure it was time to buy a new one but the guy had all parts needed in his truck and fixed in less than 30 minutes!

* Sam's getting his 9mo check up today, can't wait to see the weigh in! He was 19lbs on the last check up. Boy is getting HEAVY!!!

* I've been back from my 2nd trip to Asia for one week, NOT going back for a looooong time. I've just recently realized the impact to my personal life and it's not fun. Too far behind on day to day stuff and just exausted from all the travel. Need a break!

* Next weekend we are going camping in the Florida Keys for 4 days, that should fun - and HOT!

Can't wait to catch up with all my Random friends!!! Be back later this evening. Got alot of work stuff to catch up on.

Monday, May 02, 2011

I want PIZZA!

I WANT Pizza!

I want Pizzaaaaaaaaaa!

We are standing in line right now for the Pizza darling.

I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant Pizzaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Just need to wait a few more minutes, please move out of the line so other people can get through.


Why don't we pack all the Costco groceries in the van while pizza is baking? Good idea, off we go following a little girl dressed in watermelon dress as she runs full speed towards the exit guy, a plastic fork in one hand, plastic spoon in the other. She stops just before crashing into a women's bottom, veers madly around her and runs up to exit guy with our receipt in hand waving madly back towards our cart. Wait your turn sweetie, we call ahead.

We run through the parking lot, narrowly missing more carts and people. We retell the story that she must hold our hand or a car might hurt her then Mema would be sad, daddy would be sad, mommy would be sad, Pepa would be sad, Mark and Tina would be sad, Papa and Nana would be sad - these are her words, we only started with mommy and daddy would be sad.

At the van, groceries are loaded and I return to the store with a suddenly tired little girl who now must be carried the entire way.

We collect pizza and trudge slowly back to the van. Load girl and pizza, stop for gas and head home. Somewhere along the way she get's over tired and done the entire day.

At home.

No Pizza.




Okay fine sweetie, we will eat it.

She finally comes over and eats two bites with much fussing over touching it. Massive parent eye rolling.

Sam goes to bed while Charlotte lays on couch moaning about needing a milk bottle. Bottles are for babies dear, how about warm milk in a straw cup? Okay!

She drinks 1/4 of the cup and is done.

It's a good thing she's our daughter, otherwise....