And for once I was SuperMom

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Get to Go!!!!

Last month my husband got invited to do a backpacking training in Kosovo. At first I was just a teeny but jealous. But that's how this works, he gets to go to exotic places and I stay home and am a one man dog and pony show to our child. It sounds unfair, and it kinda is, but that is what my husband does, international backpacking training.
I think his thought process went like this:
"Hmmmm, I don't really want to go alone," my husband is a true extrovert.
"Hmmmm, what if I take someone from the church?"
"Hmmmmm, the only guy I can think of is traveling too much this year already."
"Hmmmmmm, wait! My mom can watch Emma!"
Speaking now, "Hey, Lara what if you went with me, and Bibi watched Emma?"
"I've never been to a former war zone before, can you imagine the social and cultural implications?!?!"
"I'll take that as a yes."
So we contacted our church, sent out a support letter, and bought tickets. April
11th to 22nd. I'm a little in shock.
I was watching Man vs. Food the other day, I do like the show largely because if I ever happen to be in Philadephia now I know where to get an amazing cheesesteak. So I was thinking, 'What do I need to eat in Kosovo? What kind of cultural experience do I need to have?' I googled it. What pops up? Only things about the war. Nohing travelly at all. Oh, and a youtube video done by some soldiers that were servng there after the war. I started to become a little unsure of any cultural experieces we were going to have.
You know there were landmines used in the war in Kosovo, but they removed most of them now. Hmmmm.
Still if I think about it. I'm thrilled. We scheduled in an extra day (Largely because flights were cheaper that way) to stay in the capital, Pristina, and explore. Even if it is a bomb-out shell of what it used to be I'm still excited, because that's how you get to know a place, see it, learn the history, see the implications of the past. I've never travelled in a place where I didn't know the language or enough to get me out of trouble. And I haven't trevelled that much in Europe. Pristina is still a European city, it has to have some kind of amazing architecture. I do want to see past the war and see what the culture is past that. Part of that is food, and I hear Europe has pretty good beer and wine....
If any of you have any, 'what to do in Kosovo,' suggestions please let me know!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Big Five Or Whatever

Last week my friend asked me for her four children if I had ever been on safari. I cringed, yes, I have been on safari. This is a horrible, horrible thing to say, but I have been on safari so much that I am completely over it. Completely done. I have seen the big five (buffalo, lion, leopard, rhino, and elephant) and more zebras, giraffe, and antelope than I can count. Even kudu and eland. Safari is a completely magical and wonderful experience, it's amazing. And I'm okay if I just sit it out in the lodge. By the pool. Or even the tent, with a book.
I thought about this for a moment, and as with all things that you develop a cynical attitude about there is some kind of damage.
My second to last safari I think is the cause of my done-ness.
We went to Amboseli with another couple. Amboseli is a six hour drive on mostly dirt roads from Nairobi. Kenya doesn't have the same kind of road maintenance standards that we do in the US. Miles and miles of it was complete corrugation. The husband of the other couple drove. He's a pilot. I don't know if all pilots are like this, safe in the sky and a little crazy on the ground. He kept whipping the car around trying to find the sweet spot of the road. I think at one point we were driving at a forty-five degree angle. I was mostly trying not to think about it.
At this point I will mention that I was five months pregnant. I had yet to get my hands on an appropriate bra for my new preggo chest. I think I had a stretched out bra on, with a cotton sports bra pulled over it. I spent the whole ride with my hands crossed over my chest thinking, 'oh man, my nipples are going to point to the floor.' [They don't, I made it out okay.]
You know safari's consist of many hours of driving. So I spent the whole weekend like this.
Our friend was also a bird watcher (I think he's in his twenties, figure that one out), so when we weren't driving at dangerous angles he was whipping the car around, perpendicular to the road and yelling,
"Look at that yellow-bellied, tufted, titmouse!" Seriously, for that kind of whiplash I was atleast hoping for a cheetah.
We also camped that weekend. I love camping, I do. We were camping near some maasai settlements. We would do something highly unusual like, say, sit down to eat lunch, and out of nowhere children or men would appear, ask us for cash and then proceed to watch us. That's right, watch us. It's the Dirty White People Show!
Because you know, when you're camping, you're dirty...right. Scott swears they have a sixth sense, 'Embarass white people.' Like ESP with more socail and cultural implications. EWP?
Needless to say, after miles of corrugation and becoming a National Geographic Show for someone else I was pretty much over it.
Rhinos are cool, though. And cheetahs, cheetahs are really cool.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Put a Ring On It....Yourself

Valentine's Day was quite awhile ago, I know that, but this just shows you how often soemthing stews in my brain before I get the opportunity to actually write it. Every time that particular holiday of hearts rolls around I remember my single days. Those days where that particular holiday only produced irritation and some snarky diatribe how it was only created by Hallmarkd to sell cards, and it may be that that is true.
I remember a moment in those days, as I was walking into Trader Joe's I paused in front of the display of roses and thought to myself, 'maybe someday [sniff, sniff], someone [sniff, sniff], will buy me a bouquet.' Then I walked into the store. The next time that happened, I paused in the middle of my sniffing, and thought, 'Ah, Dammit, I'm gonna buy my own damn flowers!' And I did. And I never looked back.
Now that I'm married I look back on those days and wish that I could have enjoyed them more. I wish that I hadn't spent them wishing to be in another stage of life. Here are things I wish I had known before getting married and then having kids:
1. On Valentine's Day buy your own flowers and chocolates instead of relying on crazy mind reading games that you play on your husband. "No honey, I don't need flowers, we can't really afford anything like that right now." And really in your head on that PARTICULAR you still really want him to walk in that door holding some roses. We are a bit crazy.
2. Take a really long baths and showers, all the time, whenever you want. Because you won't always get to do that.
3. Don't shave, just don't, I mean really, why?
4. Take the time to explore who you are and what you love. I actually did that, and it was the best thing I ever could have ever done for me.
5. Eat weird dinners. You just may have years of meal planning ahead of you.
6. Buy a random plane ticket.
Every time I encounter another person in Facebook that I have lost track of a little pang of jealousy arrises in my heart. I mean, of course it does, we're all guilty of Gloatbooking. I only post the cute pictures of my kid, I don't post the one where she is melting down because she hasn't had her nap yet. I look at my single friends pictures of their great parties, weekends in Vegas, and awesome careers and I feel jealous. Then I realise they just might be jealous of me. We all want what we can't have. Right?
I just wish that I had taken the time to enjoy each stage of life as it came, instead of wishing for something else. I think that I have been able to enjoy Emma at each stage and not wish for the next to come or reminisce about the past stage. Hopefully I can learn my lesson and enjoy everything as it comes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What to Wear?

When we picked Scott up in Denver we took another rare chance to shop. I walked into the Gap outlet in Castle Rock and I immediately felt overwhelmed. This is what living overseas and living in a small town does to you, large stores blitz you out. I was dazed for the first few moments until could focus and think about what pieces that I don't have. Those items that every morning when you get dressed you think "if I just had a brown pair of..."
As I was flipping through the racks I kept thinking that I needed to buy something different from what I usually buy. Different colors, different cuts. It's in these moments that I wish they had a show where a stylist just descended on you in stores. That out of nowhere Stacey London would appear, whip something off the shelf that I would never think of wearing and it would look great on me. Alas that does not happen.
As I whipped great pairs of slacks and professional shirts past me I thought about this show, Stacey would probably ask me what I did for a living. The first response in my head,
"Chase after a toddler." What kind of wardrobe do you assemble if your main job involves running around in your backyard and getting juice? Probably all the things that stylists tell you not to wear. Cropped pants, flip flops, regular old shirts that you can pull on without thought, clothing that doesn't get in your way when you are washing dishes. I found myself asking questions like, 'How would this look with spit up on it?' or, 'How angry would I feel if I spilled food coloring on it?'
I guess that's what happens when you become a mom you develop opinions on things like sippy cups and baby butt wipes. Your wardrobe also takes a turn towards the dangerously casual. The first few weeks that I stopped working I made some promises to myself like, I won't wear yoga pants outside of the house, I will wear something other than jeans atleast once a week, and maybe sometimes I will wear makeup. I often wonder why I even bother? Why get completely dressed every day if no one is going to notice? Hopefully my someday my kid will notice, and maybe she'll see that I respect myself, and maybe she'll think that I'm more than a juice waitress.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day Two & Three

Some of you may have read my last post and thought, "gee, two glasses of wine? Is she drinking her way trough this? That's kinda pathetic." It may well be, but here's my problem: years and years of sleeping just fine alone, i get married and suddenly I can't sleep without the dude. I'll get in bed before him and he'll take a half hour or so to finish watching his basketball game or whatever and I will lie there until he joins me, and then within minutes I'll pass out. Go figure. So when he goes out of town I am often nervous that I looking down the barrel of insomnia. I will drink glass of red wine or take a bath and hope that will aid me in husband-less sleep.
I did fall asleep all right on Thursday night. I kept flipping on the light to write ideas for blog posts, a luxury I can't take with another person in the bed. Other than that I was fine.
Emma woke at six this morning, I gave her a drink and then plunked her back in her crib. I wasn't ready yet, and I was pretty sure she wasn't either. She slept until 7:30. Scott is usually the one to get out of bed and get our daughter, so this morning it was me. They have a regular routine of making coffee, drinking juice, and eating breakfast while watching Sportscenter. I hate television in the morning. I do. Too much noise too soon. I don't put up a fuss because I'm usually still in bed, and he just let me sleep an extra half hour.
I made the coffee and gave her juice and sat down with her in their normal chair, it wasn't long before she was pointing at the TV and askin for it. I held her off with books for a bit, and acquiesced to flip on CNN, a little news can't be all that bad, can it. We watched reports on Japan, ate banana bread, and snuggled.
Bibi was gracious enough to watch Emma while I went for a run and showered. I know that I cognitively know this, but it make me more thankful for Scott. I usually run and shower before he leaves for work. He does most of the child watching in the morning. If he didn't I don't think I would get to exercise and I don't think that I would be clean.
Most of the day went as normal, me trying to think of activities to fill Emma's mind and time. Some books, a little TV, some toys, etc.
I felt the first pang of, 'I miss you,' in the afternoon went I checked my phone for a text from Scott.
A friend and her four children joined me for dinner, so hospitality and good friendship distracted me from missing anyone. Her children kept Emma busy and I was glad to focus on someone other than myself.
Friday we drove out to my aforementioned friend's house and spent more time talking. My friend keeps goats, so Emma left the house yelling, 'Maaa, goat, toat, maaa!'
In the evening hour, my favorite time of day, I popped in a DVD of Meet Joe Black, all ready to enjoy an evening of romantic comedy, but didn't make it past the first forty-five minutes. At 8:30 I could barely keep my eyes open. No trouble sleeping last night. I had a moment where I wondered how tired I would be if I had had to go to work and then be the sole bather, rocker, and feeder for Emma.
Today is a much needed day of yoga pants and laundry. I can tell by Emma's extra long nap and whiney, 'i don't know what I want' behavior that she is missing her Daddy too.
This time around I haven't missed Scott as much as I used, I think a little needy person has kept me from being too focused on myself. I am quite ready for his return tomorrow, though.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day One

My first day without Scott was fairly painless.

This morning we got up, showered, hugged our baby and handed her over to Bibi (Scott's mom), and were on our way to Denver to take him to the airport. The Denver airport is a two and half hour drive from our home, if you're lucky. We talked a bit about our future, the hope of a job, the desire to decorate a home, an upcoming opportunity to go to Kosovo to help run a training, violence in the media, and thoughts we have on intentional parenting. You know, normal stuff. When I dropped him off, with a hug and a meaningful kiss, I told him not to behave, he told me just because it was a guys weekend it didn't mean we had to be incommunicado. I reminded him I wasn't the one who needed that reminder, with all love, of course.

And then I shopped.

We live about one to two hours from any decent shopping. Which induces a kind of amost crazed fervor when I do get the opportunity to shop. I have seriously thought about knocking people out of my way while yelling, "I NEED THIS!!!" Before when I lived in suburbia if I had a spare half hour I would go cruise a TJMaxx and buy a shirt or something, no big deal. When I moved to BV and had the desire to wander in consumer bliss I found I had no place to go. There was no where to spend the money I didn't have.

So when I do get the opportunity to shop I binge. I wander through the store, challenging myself to buy something different than what I normally do (this time it was patterns, plaid, and a pair of shorts), and then end up with a pile of clothes. That I am sure induces a slow burning hate from the fitting room attendant when I hand all but one shirt back. Because ladies, we know that in a pile of clothes not all of it will look good, no matter how much you run or how much sugar you cut out of your diet. So five stores later, two that I walked around and then BOUGHT NOTHING, I have two new tops, some pajamas, a dress, a pair of shorts, and a pair of heels. There have been days while after a few hours of driving, nothing fit. All that effort and nothing looked good on my butt. It's almost painful.

All of this I was able to do baby-less, because of the kindness of Bibi. God bless her. I didn't have to worry about snacks, juice, toys, or anything. I was free, just me and my purse. I headed home at 4:30pm, more because I couldn't fathom spending any more money than I had rather than any pressing need to get home.

I came home, greeted Bibi, and went over to the living room to give Emma a hug. She smiled and nuzzled her head against my neck, and then went back to watching her cartoons. That's it, that's all?

Later as I cooed to Emma that I had missed her, I realised I hadn't. I was happy to see her, and I snuggled and thoroughly enjoyed reading to her and putting her to bed. But I really hadn't thought about her much that day. I remembered that when I worked when I came home I felt clear, that I could focus on her without thinking about all the things that I wanted to do. I could play with her without something nagging me in the back of my head.

Now, blogging, with the Style channel on the in the background and well into my second glass of wine, I realise that mama could've used more alone time, and a little time away is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Single Mom for a Weekend

Scott is going out of town for the next five days. He's going to Chicago to have a reunion with friends from college, and watch some of the March Madness tournament.
Scott has had to travel a lot with his job and with our lifestyle, and when I think of him going out of town here's usually how it goes:
Before he leaves I think, "ooooohhh I can have some alone time!" The first night I put Emma to bed and snuggle down on the couch and watch something ridiculously girlie, drink a glass of sauvignon blanc, and fall asleep whenever I want. Diagonally. Across the bed.
Then I wake up in the morning, look at the clock, realize I have to make my own damn coffee, and think, "okay, you can come back now."
I didn't marry the guy because I don't like hannging out with him. He told me the other day that i was his 'best friend' and this may sound kind of lame, but I had never thought of him quite like that. It's true though, he is my best friend. I can hang out with him constantly for days on end and then when he goes to work I miss him within the hour. How is that possible?
My method for dealing with his being away is keeping myself as busy as possible. And sometimes slightly buzzed through the whole thing. I kid, I kid.
This is harder with a toddler with regular nap times and higher nutritional needs than I have. Never have needed to snack every two hours, but she does. But she also helps to keep me busy, don't have too much time to sit around and commiserate on how much I miss him when she's eating styrofoam peanuts. Styrofoam peanuts that I have no idea where she found them. Yesterday she was eating the stuffing from her basketball (she has her own little net too, and says 'dunk it') and tried to feed the stuffing to me. Thanks for the offer but I think I will pass.
So this next five days I have no idea how I will handle being on a single mom, I'm not sure how lonely I will get, or how much my back will hurt, or how I will feel when there's no one else to change this poopy diaper. Probably tired. My mother in law will provide much needed relief, by being someone else to talk to, and someone else to play with Emma.
If you think of me over the next few days give me a call, I might just be going nuts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Art from Trash

One of the struggles of an artist is discovering who you are artistically. Walking around Georgia O'Keefe's museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico I realised that she didn't find out who she was until later in her career when she landed in New Mexico. Her earlier works were muddy, of course there were pieces that were brilliant all throughout, but not until New Mexico did her paintbrush sing.

I'm still young in terms of my career and i don't think I have really found my voice as an artist. I do know that my experiences and present circumstances always inform my art. In Colorado I paint aspen trees and pine trees, in California I painted Joshua Trees, in Kenya I drew zebras and painted lobelia flowers. As a parent I find myself surrounded my children's images; the patterns on Emma's clothes, the illustrations in her books, the sets in the TV shows she watches, etc.

In Kenya I didn't have much available to me to decorate Emma's nursery. I got resourceful and I got creative. I made the letters of her name out of the wrapping paper and bags from her shower. I made paper mache flowers out of newspaper and balloons. I drew daisy designs on watercolor paper and laminated them.

I had to leave behind the paper mache flowers because I was pretty sure they'd get crushed in our luggage. So in coming home to the states I still had room to fill on her walls. Miriam gave me her old button box, and I had wrapping paper left over from Emma's first birthday party. So out of it came the idea for collage painting of pink daisies, in the three basic colors of her room pink, brown, and green. I love that I was using things that would otherwise be thrown away or long forgotten.

I was bothered by the fact that I have started making nursery art, how far I have fallen from my ideals in college. The more I thought about it the more I was okay with it. My goal in creating art is making beautiful objects that bring joy to people. I know that I make myself happy when everything in room flows and goes together. Hopefully I can create a piece of art for children that gives them that thing of magic. A painting that makes them feel special or gives them a starting point for their imagination. For right now it's where I am, I have a toddler. Sitting down to create a thing of beauty is time that I often don't have. This painting I could do, I could snag fifteen minutes here and there to cut out a flower or sew on a button. I tell myself I'm like Miriam Schapiro, remaking women's art into fine art, and maybe I am. Maybe right now I'm just thankful that my mom taught me how to embroider.

Posted above are the letters that i made for Emma and the new painting that I just finished.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Too Many Bloggers in the Kitchen?

I started this blog when we were overseas as a way to connect with people back home and let them know how we are doing. I kept it up because I discovered that I loved it and because my brother planted the seed in my head that I can actually make money off this. After a year of no dividends I'm wondering if I actually can. Through several long discussions with my husband I have discovered that I just want to write and this is a good forum, so I will do it just let the air out a bit.
I have started to try and network and join mommy blogger forums, and have been shocked at how many mom's are out there blogging. It's a little discouraging, thinking that maybe I have nothing new and interesting to offer or that we've glutted the market.

Today I finally realised why in a very concrete way why there are so many of us and why so many moms are compelled to write. We have NO ONE to talk to. As I walk around my house picking up toys and trying to contain the wreckage my baby causes I often find myself composing conversations in my head. The one that has bounced around in my brain lately is about US waistlines, I just read an article stating that carbohydrates are to blame for the growing obesity problem in the US. We used to say not to eat fat so people replaced fat with carbs and now we are fat. I just kept thinking, 'We're fat because we eat too much.' Stop scientists and stop nutritionists. Stop trying to make people feel like they need to eat some magic food or cut some other harmful food out of their diet, just tell people to put the fork down. We live in a country where the food is good and we have a culture that tells we should have anything we want when we want it. Go ahead and eat the 500 calorie cheescake at Applebee's after eating their 2000 calorie burger, because you want it and you deserve it. Then blame the restaurant for making you fat.

Okay so that's my thought for the day.

So as I was standing in the card aisle of our grocery store and Emma saw a dog on one of the cards and started saying loudly and proudly, 'Arf! Arf!' because all dogs are 'arfs' right now. I responded with arfing myself, and it occurred to me that I am standing in a grocery store and practically yelling arf. Awesome.

That is why we all write, when our daily conversations consist of animal noises and telling my child not to shove that toy into the DVD player you need something. Sense we only have so many play dates and so many hours with our husbands in the evening, and talking to yourself is frowned upon, we blog.

So moms with mouths full of words to say, blog on, blog on, I say!!