Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Pal Scout

I just need to send love and a shout out to my current favorite people in the entire world--Frenchie and B! My Pal Scout by LeapFrog is amazing! It's for Tybalt, but I spent an hour playing with it myself. Thank you, you wonderful, amazing gift givers. Merry Christmas! And a recommendation for parents of children any age from infant through pre-school or maybe even slightly older--run, don't walk, to buy your little one a My Pal Scout (or My Pal Violet for the girls) by Leapfrog. It teaches children colors, letters, numbers, rhyme, song, even empathy for emotions. And it does it all by talking to your child by name, plus alot of music. The amount he will learn and the fun he will have make me excited. What makes me GIDDY is the following--we as parents know music is important, but what happens when the songs have played over, and over, and over, and over, and we just can't take it anymore? Well, with Scout and Violet, you use a USB cord, connect the stuffed animal to your computer, and YOU CHOOSE which songs will play! Sick of one? Take it out of the rotation. Parent's sanity resolved. Now back to putting the baby's needs first: Think baby is bored, click "random selection" and Scout will have a whole new playlist. Think baby needs to work on the motor skills a certain song will provide, choose that song and no others for a while so it repeats more frequently. Bottom line--it's a musical toy everyone can be happy with.

*Just to be clear, it should be stated that neither Frenchie nor I are receiving any gain of any sort for naming these products in this post. And the LeapFrog company is not afilliated with this blog. My views are my own.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How long did you believe in Santa?

Around the Thanksgiving table this year, my family shared one of my favorite family memories with B. I was surprised that I had never told him about it before, but after being together for nearly five years, I guess it's a good thing we haven't run out of stories yet. My mom asked us whether we were going to have a photo of Mia with Santa this year. I told her that yes, otherwise, we wouldn't have anything to show her later on (you know, when she's actually concious of Christmas) when we get to do the whole Santa thing with her.

Different families have different traditions when it comes to Santa Claus. My family did the whole putting a letter in the mail, and then setting out milk and cookies. We didn't have any fireplaces (it's not often that apartments in the tropics come with a fireplace...), so my parents told us that he came in through the window. B's parents told him that Santa had magic keys (which apparently led to a few moments of being locked out and B exclaiming that it would be pretty useful to have some of Santa's magic keys, adorbs).

I believed in Santa Claus until the uncommonly advanced age of 12. Yup, double digits, people. And, I had a perfectly good reason to continue believing until I was that age. And of course, I've got my parents to blame (or thank) for the embarassment and teasing I had to endure in 4th, 5th and up to 6th grade, when I finally gave up. People would try to reason with me: "How do you explain it? It just can't work", and I'd simply reply: "Whatever. If you don't believe, that's fine, but I saw him. He exists".

When I was in 3rd grade, apparently, my parents observed that I was starting to have my doubts. 7 is the age of reason, after all. So, I was starting to reason this whole Santa thing out. I think most parents may admit it to their children, and then ask nicely that they not spoil the fun for their younger siblings. But no, not my parents. Instead, they got together with one of my Dad's co-workers (who is Dominican and dark skinned, by the way) and each dress up as Santa very early on Christmas morning, and each make an appearance at the other person's house. Of course!

On Christmas morning, very early, I was awoken by my mother saying: "Frenchie, wake up! Look who is here!". My very nearsighted eyes laid upon a blurry vision of a big man in a red suit standing next to my father. I couldn't see his facial features, couldn't see the beard in any kind of detail. He said something about running late, but he was glad he made it in time, and that he hoped we enjoyed the presents. I, stunned and in a daze, thanked him and he was on his way. My parents told me many years later, that this man also had a strong accent, and that they had made sure that my Dad was also in the room, so that I couldn't jump to the conclusion that it was my father in the Santa suit.

So, for the next few years, I was perfectly contented with this image of a blurry Dominican Santa Claus in my head. I firmly believed that this was the real Santa Claus, and I held on despite all evidence to the contrary, and all contrary arguments from my friends, who had much less imaginative and scheming parents. I made all sorts of rationalizations in my mind. No, those weren't all Santa in the malls, those were just people who worked for him. No, he didn't personally make all the deliveries on Christmas Eve, he couldn't move that fast. He had multiple sleighs, and his helpers could do deliveries too. Plus, with all the time differences, there was plenty of time for him and his helpers to get to everyone. My brother, being all of 3 or 4 years old, has no memory of this happening, so he suffered much less humiliation.

We're totally doing this to Mia. Can't wait! Until then, Santa is coming to our apartment complex on Thursday, so pictures will be taken.

This post inspired by the question at A cup of Jo.

The Countdown Begins!

It's crazy to think that by this time next week, we'll have been in France for 3 days. And Xmas will be over. Three more days of work for me (my boss will be on vacation starting wednesday, so I'll most likely have a casual pseudo vacation day then, too). My brain seems to be starting to fry coordinating our trip, so I'm afraid this is going to be a bullet post:

-I got into work this morning and realized that the one work thing that I did last week, I managed to screw up. I sent some immigration papers to the wrong office, so now I have to wait for them to return it and send it to the right place. Am admonising myself for not paying attention! You had ONE THING TO DO.

-We had a very bad night with Mia. She woke up at 2am screaming bloody murder. I rocked her, gave her a bottle and finally, some baby tylenol and she calmed down. Repeat 4 hours later. We've been pretty spoiled not to have any teething yet, so maybe this is it.

-Although we are still not sleeping through the night (see above), we've at least managed to start training her to fall asleep on her own. We go through the bedtime routine (PJs, lotion, bottle, song, sleep), and now, instead of rocking her to sleep, we'll just put her in her crib while she's still awake and let her fall asleep on her own. So far, she's still pretty pissed about it, but after we go back in 2-3 times to put the pacifier back in place, she'll actually just roll onto her side and fall asleep. It's been a very welcome change, freeing up some baby-free evenings.

-Last night, before she actually fell asleep, I went back into the room to get some knitting needles, I found her on all fours, almost on her knees, trying to reach her nightlight. It looks like we're going to have a crawler soon, people.

-My Xmas shopping is done, almost all the presents are wrapped. Yesterday, I locked B in our bedroom (that sounded dirty, but it's not...) and forced him to look through the clothes that he wants to [me] to pack for France. With my insistance, he will both be warm and look nicer than he usuall does in his usual uniform of t-shirts and jeans. I've at least got him convinced to put a nice sweater over those t-shirts.

-We spoke with my grandmother this weekend, and they've gone all out and set up a borrowed crib in the bedroom set up for us. It's a relief not to have to travel internationally with our pack n' play. Thinking about bringing the pack n' play, a stroller and a carseat was giving me panic attacks.

-Finally, this morning I learned that one of my co-worker's wives is pregnant. In other pregnancy news, let's congratulate our blog friend BeeBeeZfa, who has been waiting a long time for this great news. I'm so happy for you!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stopping By To Say Hi

Just wanted to take to the time to assure everyone that I have not actually fallen off the face of the Earth. I've just been having a rough go of it with my depression. I was having difficulty to begin with, but the holidays, money, schedule, missing home--it all adds up to a crazy mind and sad time.

But I am alive and kicking (granted it may be underwater). And in case I don't get on again in the next week, I just wanted to say "Merry Christmas." As for all the other holidays you may celebrate, feel free to comment and wish us all a Happy or Merry one! :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Holiday Lull


So, my job. I'm not busy. It's nearly Christmas (and Hanukah and everything else that people celebrate). I've got a couple of things going on, a few applications pending at CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) which I am waiting for. And one that I have yet to send but have to wait for my person to send some documents. I would like to get started on some other people's green card application, but, you guessed it, there's still some stuff that has to come in before I start that. So, I'm waiting. And waiting.

And then, I came back to my office after lunch to find a couple of pieces of mail sitting on my desk. Yay! Stuff to do! I opened it, and there was a notice that I had some licenses to renew. Ok, this will take about an hour! Yay! Then, I was all prepared to send it out, and I went into the accountant's office to ask for a check, and lo... it's not due until February! The end of February, mind you. Sorry Frenchie, can you hang on to that until the end of January? I'll just wait some more.

Meanwhile, my husband, my mother and my baby are all sitting in my apartment probably having an awesome time while I sit at my desk.

The thing about Holiday Lull is that I've actually got stuff to do, just not here. I've got about 12 loads of laundry to do in the next 10 days for all three people in my family (B can only manage to launder his work clothes - one load, once a week). I've got Xmas cards to make order (waiting on our family portraits which are available on the 14th!) on Shutterfly. I've got Christmas gifts to buy that I cannot order online because I have to bring them with me to France and suitcases will be zipped up by time we go to sleep on the 22nd. What do you buy a 12 year old [french] girl whose clothing size you do not know? What do you buy your uncle's boyfriend? And your brother's girlfriend who you are meeting for the first time in a foreign country?

Now, to end on a more positive note, here's my new favorite picture of Mia:

NAKED BABY!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The doggie loves of your life.

I started this post forever ago and just had the time to finish it up this afternoon:

Juliet posted on facebook that the Capulet/Montague family is considering getting a dog. I wrote an inordinately long response for facebook standards, and was inspired to write more on the topic. I shared the story of Chloe the Beagle a while ago, but I can't shut up about how much a dog can add to your life.

Chloe and Mitsy, the two family dogs.
When my parents had left for China in January of 2009, they left Mitsy, our 15 year old family dog with us for her last few months. A few weeks into her stay with us, I brought her to my Vet that I loved, and she did some x-rays and figured out that Mitsy had been misdiagnosed by my parents' Vet and was getting progressively worse. They thought she had arthritis in her hips, but it turned out that she had a degenerative spinal condition. She had arthritis all right, but it was in her spine, which was damaging the nerves and basically making her slowly lose control of her back half. B and I had spent the past few months carting Mitsy to her doggie physical therapy appointments, buying all sorts of rehab equipment, etc. We were happy to do it, so long as it seemed to be making her better. She was still a happy dog, despite having trouble moving her back legs. In the apartment, it wasn't a problem. She could walk short distances on her own, and she was content spending most of the day on her bed, keeping watch over her beloved tennis ball.




Mitsy seriously was the love of my family's life. My parents "bribed" my brother and I into being excited to leave Bangkok by promising that we would get a dog. I was 12, and he was 9. We adopted her no less than a week after we touched down in Quebec. We had initially planned on buying a Beagle puppy, but my Dad suggested we stop by the shelter to check out whether there were any dogs there we'd like. Mitsy was already a year old, and unlike the rest of the dogs, was just hanging out in the SPCA office. My brother and I were reluctant, we wanted a puppy! But, the administrator there told us to just take her home for a few days, that she was a great dog for a family with active children, and if we still wanted that puppy, that we could bring her back after a week. RIGHT. Mitsy instantly became part of the family. She got us all of us out into the mounds of snow for hours a day, which was no easy feat for a couple of kids from the tropics. I wish I had some pictures of us in the snow to share with you guys, but alas, this was in pre-digital camera days. Mitsy moved from Quebec with us to Chicago, and then went back again when my parents moved to Montreal, while Chloe stayed with me.

B's family was also very much a dog family. They had two golden retrievers who passed away within months of each other, the first just before we started dating, and the second just after. Mitsy's last few months were really hard on us. On me because this was my beloved family dog, who amazingly was 15 years old. On B because this was the 3rd dog in a row he had to watch in its last days. Once the therapies stopped working, our Vet told us it was time to make a decision. I looked into one last option, a doggie wheelchair, but we lived on the second floor, in a 900 square foot condo with narrow walkways, so it just wasn't feasible. It was a hard decision to make, knowing that I was the only person in Mitsy's family of four to know that it was the right time.

The few days after were hard. I never knew that losing a pet could be so hard. Plus, B was working but I hadn't found anything yet, so the apartment seemed so empty. My days had previously been filled with caring for Mitsy, carrying her down the stairs, walking patiently next to her as we went up and down the block. On B's next day off, I insisted we "visit" a shelter. I wanted to look at the puppies, watch them wrestle with each other with so much energy and unbridled joy. There was a dedicated puppy room, where a bunch of 6-week old black lab mixes were biting each other's ears and generally having a great time. They were adorable, but none of them spoke to us. We went around to visit the rest of the dogs, and saw a scruffy looking brown dog, labelled "Sleepy" and described as a German Shepherd/Lab mix. I immediately hesitated, we didn't have room for a big dog. The volunteer who had been taking us around told us his story. He was one of seven puppies, all named after the seven dwarves. He and his siblings all came in with Parvo (which is a super contagious disease in dogs), and four out of the seven had died. Sleepy had taken longer than his two surviving siblings to recover, so he hadn't been available for adoption during the prime puppy age. Sleepy was already four months old. Once we learned his story, B and I decided to at least go into his room and check him out. We sat on the floor next to him, he climbed (sleepily) into B's lap and snuggled up. Plus, he had a beard!



At that point, there was another dog - a 10 month old female basenji mix - still in the running. We went home to pick Chloe up, because the shelther required that she meet any dog that we were going to take home that day. Chloe hates other dogs, so we were pretty nervous about this part. She met the basenji mix and was not a fan. She growled, the basenji mix growled. It was not a good fit, and the volunteer took that poor dog away. They brought Sleepy in, and Chloe neither growled nor tried to attack him. We have a winner!

So, Sleepy came home with us. We changed his name to Swarley, and he brought so much joy into our house. I realized that we needed the puppy energy back in our home to brighten it up again after the darkness of Mitsy's last few months. I never saw Swarley as a replacement, but Mitsy's passing opened up a spot in our house and in our hearts to rescue another dog in need. Swarley is a bundle of joy, happiness and energy. I spent my unemployed days taking him to puppy classes, house training him, and putting him down for naps.


Well, their German Shepherd/Lab mix turned out to be a Cairn Terrier/Lab Mix, topping out at an ideal 35 pounds.

Mia is lucky to have a built in best friend. At six months, she already appreciates him. She tries to reach out for him everytime he walks by, and her first giggles came when she was on B's lap and I was playing with Swarley on the floor. Although Swarley didn't understand her at the beginning, now that she's interactive, he loves her. He sits right next to her playmat when she's on the floor (not on the mat, of course! He knows) and watches her as she plays with her stuffed animals (longing to run off with them, but restraining himself). Sometimes, we think about how Swarley's passing will happen when Mia is between 10-13, and how difficult that is going to be for her. But, we'll explain the same thing to her as I learned with Mitsy's passing, and let her know that now, we'll have room to rescue and love another dog in need.

Blessings

Usually, with the exception of acknowleding someone's sneeze, I do not use words like "blessed", or "blessings". It's hard to avoid in the context of your child's baptism, though.

So, Miss Mia was baptized this past weekend. My familiy's been in town for a while, but B's family (only the good ones) arrived on Friday, so the weekend and a few days following have been quite a whirlwind. B's two girl cousins came (one is the Godmother), and they wanted to go out Vegas-style. B was feeling protective since they're only 21 and 23, so we had ourselves a pseudo Vegas-style night. Pseudo because we waited at a casual bar in the Wynn while they went to a club at the Wynn called Tryst. It was another classic babysitter-high, and I indulged in quite a few beverages. We still managed to stay out until 4, which was late enough for the girls to come out of Tryst and meet us for a couple more drinks.

My Mom and I spent the last few days of last week putting our finishing touches on the decorations. In France, it's traditional to give out candy-covered almonds as a favor, so we made boxes for those. I also decided to make cupcake toppers and a big banner to liven the room up. My boss (and old family friend) graciously let us have the luncheon at his house after the Mass.

Boxes full of goodies.

Cupcakes - from a box. No time to make delicious cupcakes when I spent all my time making the toppers!

Sorry for the bad lighting, I didn't end up taking ANY pictures during the party, so these are all stolen from someone else's camera.
We didn't have a Church before we decided to get Mia Baptized, and we specifically chose this one because it is "liberal" (or as liberal as a Catholic church can get) with its practices. The first time we attended Mass there, it was a Baptismal Mass. They completely submerged the baby in the Baptismal font buck-naked, and it's a really moving ceremony. For those unfamiliar with Christian/Catholic Baptism, generally, they just drip a bit of water over the baby's head. As soon as I saw that happen, I told B that this was our Church and we could stop shopping around. We had figured out all sorts of logistics on what Mia would be wrapped in before the submerging, so that she'd stay warm and diapered while waiting, etc. When we got to the Church the required 30 minutes early, we stuck our hands in the font and the water was totally freezing. They were all "Oops! We forgot to turn the heater on. I guess we'll have to do it the regular way." I was really disappointed. But, I sucked it up and we did it the "regular way" and it was still nice, I guess.



At least Mia got to wear her pretty dress the whole time!
We had a very traditionally Filipino meal at the luncheon. Despite my nerves about B's grandparents disliking the food, it turned out just fine. Everyone likes fried things! We had over forty people attend, and I got to see my baby for approximately thirty minutes of the luncheon, which lasted at least four hours. Mia loved all the attention, and went happily from person to person. She got tons of gifts, and now we're officially set with her winter and France wardrobe.



Of course, Mia had an "after" dress.
So, on the long list of things happening in these few weeks, we've got a second thing checked off the list. Lastly: France in 2 weeks and 1 day!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Pediatrician

Romeo and I decided to try and switch Tybalt's pediatrician. His previous one is too far away since we moved clear across town last March, I've never been comfortable in the office because most of the patients and staff all speak a different language, and the doctor seems to be obsessed with Tybalt's large head. She wanted to do a CAT-scan and it would require sedation, and we just aren't comfortable with that. Romeo's head is big, my MIL's head is big, FIL's head is big--Tybalt just inherited a big head! But the doctor has never been satisfied with that answer.

So, Tybalt needed to go in for his 15 month well-check and we decided to use the opportunity to doctor shop. We found one not five minutes from our apartment, with good online reviews, and I made an appointment.

I just got back about an hour ago and Tybalt is napping off his booster shots.

I honestly don't know if we'll be going back. Well, we will have to go back at least once for the second half of his flu shot, but after that, I just don't know. Romeo and I will have to talk about it tonight.

Here's my thing--she said he should have a large vocabulary by now. This shocks me, because none of the baby books say that, and his last doctor (even with our disagreements about her wanting unnecessary testing) was extremely impressed with how much he "talks" (aka he vocalizes all the time, we just don't hear any more than like one actually word which is "Dada"). So why such a stark, huge difference in opinion between the two doctors? (P.S. His head size was never even MENTIONED by this new doctor. I guess we were hoping a new doctor wouldn't see it as such a big deal, that's one reason for the switch, but again, why such differences between what each doctor is concerned with?)

Anway, but what actually HURT my feelings is that she said "He's not talking? You need to get him books, read to him, play music at home, talk to him."

Um, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?

First of all, how DARE you accuse me of not doing any of that. I'M TOO ENRAGED TO EVEN COMMENT ON THE "TALK TO HIM" SUGGESTION!!!!!!!!!!!

As for the others, he's been read to, sung to, lullabies played to him, all since birth! What kind of parents do you think we are? How about asking, "Do you read to him? What about music?" etc. Why the hell do you just assume? And just because my son doesn't have a huge vocabulary doesn't mean I don't foster learning in my home! (Hell, Romeo took two hours off of work to sit in your waiting room with me and meet you, Ms. "New Doctor." I only saw one other set of two parents there today. You really think if we are the type who care enough to BOTH come to his doctor appointment that we are the type to not care at home about our child's well-being?)

Secondly, and sadly, what kind of parent doesn't read to their child and sing or have music cd's, etc., around the house? (Unfortunately, with my past business experience with low-income families, I know the answer to this question is that many parents don't. But it's sad, and don't you dare assume I'm one of them.)

Thanksgiving RV Palooza

Well, sorry for falling off the face of the blog-earth like that. But things have been buuuuuuusy at the Frenchie house!

My father and brother both landed in Las Vegas on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and evidently, it's difficult to get anything done in a 2 bedroom apartment crammed with 5 adults and one baby. I've got piles of clean and dirty laundry all over my bedroom, a dozen blog posts floating around in my head, a baptism to get ready for, and a trip to France in three weeks with a baby!

So yeah, busy.

Anyway. RV Palooza was successful (and by successful I mean nobody died or fell off any cliffs). We all came out of the trip alive, despite being quite a bit worse for wear. We discovered that my Dad is actually a pyromaniac, that Swarley will jump into a freezing river without regard to the rapids and almost get swept away, and that Mia sleeps through the night in Utah but not Nevada. My Dad has been wanting to rent an RV every since I can remember, but my brother and I were "too cool" while we were teenagers, but now that we're out West, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give my Dad the chance to fulfill his lifelong dream. Yes, I realize that it is strange that this is his lifelong dream, and if you knew my Dad and his Frenchness, you'd think it was hilarious.

We were scheduled to leave in the morning on Friday, but of course that turned into the late afternoon. Within the first hour of having this tremendously enormous vehicle, my father rammed the side of it into the buzzer thing at our apartment building (The buzzer still works... despite it being a bit dented). I'm just glad that it was Dad driving and not B... phew!

31 footer - Sleeps 5 adults and potentially 4 children.
We arrived in Utah after dark on Friday, and after managing to get lost within the RV park (or "resort" as they'd have you call it), we parked, hooked everything up, and set up the camp fire (pyro!).



Notice B's cupholders: a beer and a baby bottle. Classy.
After a fitful and freezing night in the RV (Mia was not cold, I thought only of her when packing blankets, apparently, since she had 4, and we had 1), we saw the campsite for the first time in the daylight. What looked like a crappy RV park at night turned out to have a gorgeous view of Zion and was right on the riverbank. We walked to the entrance of the park and did the easiest trail in the park (wheelchair accessible easy) and a good time was had by all.


Bottle Break!
After a second much less fitful night (we figured out how to turn up the heat), we got up bright and early so that we could squeeze two trails in. The Emerald Pools (semi-easy, stroller accessible, but no wheelchairs) got us muddy, but it was totally worth it and super fun. Second, we did the River Walk at the northmost end of Zion, where the canyons are most narrow (called: The Narrows). It's totally spectacular. I'd never heard of Zion before moving out here to Las Vegas, but I am thinking that it's totally not famous enough because it's really gorgeous. I've never been to Yellowstone or Yosemite, but I think we're going to be more likely to visit more national parks after being so impressed with this one.




So, we had an awesome time. RV-ing is quite the experience. We had a pretty nice one with a couple of pop-outs, which made camping much more tolerable. We were able to all sit down in the living area once it got too cold to stay outside, and there was enough room for everyone. B and I slept in the queen bed over the cab, my parents in the "bedroom" with a queen bed, and my brother slept on a bunk. His was probably the tightest fit, but if you're under 6 feet, that bunk bed is probably totally fine. I have to say though, riding in it while it's moving isn't as great as you would think. Maybe we didn't have an awesome RV, but those things are probably meant to be parked and not driven around. Everything shakes and clangs around while the truck is in motion, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend RV-ing for a very long drive.

B's got one all picked out if we ever won the lottery. Of course he does.



I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Checking In

Just wanted to say "Hi" and check-in to cyber-land today. Unfortunately I have not been able to post recently. I hosted my first Thanksgiving. And while it went very well (yay me!), something that time consuming and physically intensive takes me a while to recover from. But I will be back up and running soon. Promise!

Happy Holidays! (Merry Christmas!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crafting

Frenchie has blogged about her love of knitting. Personally, I've never been what I call "crafty." But after I got out of the hospital a year ago, finished further recovery, and Romeo, Tybalt and I moved into our new apartment, I felt I needed a hobby. So I started by making one baby blanket for Tybalt, and finding it was relatively easy to do as well as a cute little creation, I proceeded to make baby blankets for everyone I knew, and said hobby was found.

Becoming slightly addicted to finding and buying the adorable patterned fleece, a supply of it soon piled high in my walk-in closet. So, this holiday season I decided to enroll in a few craft fairs, put all that fleece to good use by making a buttload of blankets, and try my hand at selling them.

It's been an enjoyable albeit interesting experience. I've had more interest from potential customers than I expected. (I was secretly afraid some people would laugh my "craft" off.) And I've made some sales. But I've noticed that many folks still just don't seem to have the disposable income to spend much at craft fairs. While my blankets aren't expensive, little items here and there add up, and I understand that. Fortunately, like I said, it's been enjoyable as well. I've met many friendly fellow crafters. I've also learned new skills and found out what it takes to start a small business.


Friday, November 18, 2011

No BS Allowed

The following thought has occurred to me numerous times while driving, but I've never actually captured it "on paper." Why must schools make bumper stickers for "Student of the Month," "Gifted Student," etc? I dread the day when Tybalt comes home, excited that he has been granted whatever special title earns him a bumper sticker. I will praise his talent, his grades, his behavior, etc, but I WILL NOT put the bumper sticker on my car. For my car is a Bumper Sticker Free Zone. (Get it? No BS Allowed? :) Haha, okay maybe I'm the only one who thought it was funny, but still...)

When will elementary schools and junior highs learn that bumper stickers might seem like a neat "trophy" to the student, but are a bummer for the parents?

Why can't they give out window clings instead? Something I can put up easily, and here's the key, take down just as easily. I understand they are probably more expensive to order and have printed than the mass bumper stickers, but take note, schools of Las Vegas-- I pledge today to PAY the extra cash if I can just have a window cling instead. Promise. Hell, I'll run the PTA committee that orders them. You won't have to lift a finger. After all, I HIGHLY DOUBT I'm the only parent who is tormented by the arguments from their child when said child wants Mommy and Daddy to be proud of their accomplishment, yet Mommy and Daddy REALLY don't want to put something sticky and permanent on their car. Yep, I don't think it will be hard to head that committee and raise the extra funds at all, for I believe I will have plenty of parents on my side.

Proud parents who ALSO love their cars unite!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gender Roles

As you know I have a son. Tybalt is almost 15 months old. My mother and I were talking on the phone a couple of days ago about what he might like for Christmas. Of course at this age, the question is really what he could use, or what Romeo and I would like him to receive for Christmas, as he's still too young to have a wish list.

I was suggesting bath toys, but beyond that I was at a loss for more ideas. His birthday was just in August, so I feel like he has enough toys right now. (Plus, Romeo and I have already bought a handful and put them aside for Christmas.)

My mother wanted to know if Ty would like a new stuffed animal. When my sister and I were young, she had Gladys, a stuffed pig, and I had Bruno, a stuffed bear, that we did EVERYTHING with. I told her he has lots of stuffed animals already and has never really taken to any of them. He plays with one or two occasionally but isn't like so attached that he has to drag a particular one around, or sleep with it, or anything like that.

That's when my mother suggested a baby doll. I paused. She said, "You know your father had one." I know that, but my father was also raised by his mother and three older sisters, so to me it's no surprise that he probably wanted one. I had to make a split-second decision, was it okay for my son to play with a baby doll? My mom could hear the hesitation and stated, "Well maybe he would be more interested in it than another stuffed toy because it's a human, with a face, instead of a funny looking plush animal."

And in the next second that passed I honestly decided that yes, a baby doll would be a good gift for Tybalt for Christmas. But I asked for her to find one that isn't just stuffed, but rather one that coos and make noises, and is supposed to suck a pacifier, and go to sleep on command, etc.

My thoughts are thus: It may be "unusual" for a little boy to play with a baby doll, but does that mean he can't? Just because something is not the norm does that mean it has be impossible? Why can't my son model what Mommy does to his own "baby." Don't I want my son to learn from an early age that boys can be caretakers and love children too? He has a wonderful father who takes such good care of him--don't I want him to learn those traits? What's wrong with him feeding the baby it's bottle? Or rocking it to sleep? (Side note, it might also help him go to sleep when he sees "his" baby is going to sleep too, because Tybalt has been occasionally fighting me on nap time lately.)

I've brought the idea up to my husband and he seems reluctant, somewhat surprised, but not vehemently opposed. I'll take that. After all, I was reluctant and somewhat surprised at the suggestion at first myself. And I think if it works the way I believe in my head that it will, it will be another thing that he later admits I was right about, like so many wife/husband decisions! (LOL.)

My main problem comes right now with my MIL. Every Christmas my parents, who still live in Chicago, send the presents straight to her house and we spend Christmas there and open them then. I am TERRIFIED that when she sees a baby doll, all sorts of judgmental comments will bubble out of her mouth. She raised two boys in the 70's and 80's. No way would they have played with a baby doll and is she going to even begin to grasp the concept.

I'm starting to think I should ask my parents to ship the gifts to our place this year and try to find the baby doll before we take the rest of the gifts over to MIL's. Then Tybalt can open it and play with it only here, and she'll never see it. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Mia Photo Post

Mia turns six months on the day after Thanksgiving. I can't believe it, so I can't imagine anyone else believes it, either. Here's Mia's 6th month in photos!

B calls Mia a "Counter Baby" and seats her on the counter while I cook.

Bumbo and Ponytail!

Mia is usually more interested in eating books - but gets super excited when you turn the page!

She sits on her own. But she still doesn't roll over. The competitive person in me is very upset that she has skipped a milestone all together!

Blueberry Face!

Pigtails!

Sitting, again!

At the Coke store on the Strip!

Pretty baby in her "office".

Mama loves Mia's pajamas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guilty Pleasure: The Twilight Saga

As I mentioned before, I can often become overly enthusiastic about the things I like. The Twilight Saga is a bit of an anomaly that has a place on the "list of things I love". I love to read, and I especially love getting into a series. I absolutely adore putting down a book and knowing that the story is not over, that I've got at least several more hundreds of pages to get to know the characters, and for the story to become increasingly complicated. I love sitting down and re-reading a Harry Potter, knowing that I'm going to get more out of the story each time I pick up the book. Also, I have a terrible memory, so finding a series of books I love means I get to enjoy them almost as much the second time around. (B likes to watch movies more than once, which works out well for me because I almost never remember how a movie ends!)

Another series that I've gotten into is Philippa Gregory's books on the Tudors (best known for The Other Boleyn Girl), starting with The Constant Princess, and seemingly neverending. It's not a series in the traditional sense of the word, since each novel focuses on a different character. The first is about Catherine of Aragon, then the Other Boleyn Girl is about Ann and Mary Boleyn, and the third (The Boleyn Inheritance) is divided between three characters: Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn (George's wife) and Catherine Howard. There are quite a few others, but my favorites are the first three. Although these books border on entering the Romance Novel genre, they are very well written in the style of the period. I've also read a few of the True Blood books, but stopped after the third in the series because... well, there was a bit too much fetishy sex in there for my taste.

Twilight, on the other hand, holds a higher than I'd like position on my list of books I often return to. I have a strong love/hate relationship with those books. The writing is... horrendous. I hate to read a book knowing I could have written it better - if I had just had Stephanie Meyer right next to me. While I read (and re-read) I am constantly skipping portions because they are just so annoying. I also hate how Bella is so fragile and that she doesn't seem to have any personality on her own, and is just all around a bad female role model for the age group this series is intended for. I'm much more inclined to encourage my pre-teen/teen daughter to aspire to become a Hermione rather than a Bella. But boy, do I get sucked into that darn story. Despite not really knowing why Edward loves Bella so much, I'm definitely a sucker for Edward. I love the stories of how each Cullen becomes a Vampire (something I wish she would have expanded on), the different "powers" they have, and I love all the secondary Vampire characters who come in on the final book. And the Volturi, I love them.

With the first Breaking Dawn movie coming out in a couple of weeks, I've been thinking about picking that final book up again to remember the story. Luckily, I could read it in an afternoon since I skip so much of it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Vegas Vacation

It was a big (extended) weekend at the Frenchie house. It was one of those extended weekends that you look forward to for weeks, and while its happening you just know how brutal Monday is going to be once it rears its ugly head.

It started on Wednesday (don't you love weekends that start on Wednesdays??) when B was off work, and I only went in for a couple of hours in the morning. My Mom arrived from China that afternoon, so I wanted time to finish up the obligatory let's-pretend-we're-not-slobs cleaning. B, Mia and I were still able to get some final moments of family relaxation in before we all piled into the car for the airport. Mia put on her best behavior for her Lola's (Filipino for Grandma) arrival, curiously staring at her for an hour or two before becoming smiley and adorable, and fell (and stayed) asleep without a fuss.

My Mom, Mia and I had a jam-packed Thursday. Whenever my Mom comes back to the U.S. after a long absence, there is always a lot of "business" to take care of. We had to go to the Bank, the supermarket, Target, and of course, the yarn store (Mom crochets about as much as I knit). Mia again behaved herself nicely, sitting on the desk at the Bank making smiles at the Banker, making quite a spectacle of cuteness while eating her peaches at Panera, and trying to grab at all the balls of yarn.

On Friday we met up with one of my best friends from high school and her boyfriend (J&J), who were in town for the long weekend. Mia, B and I spent Friday being tourists on the Strip and had an awesome day. We started out with lunch at the Border Grill (made slightly famous by Susan Feniger's appearance on Top Chef Masters) and had an amazing lunch. I had their grilled fish tacos and two hibiscus margaritas, totally worth the fairly elevated price tag. The bill was made slightly easier to swallow when they informed us that there is a 15% discount for locals. Mia sat in a high chair next to me and charmed the waitress into bringing her a complimentary scoop of banana sorbet. We then walked around a couple of casinos and stopped to visit the MGM Lions. Someone had the brilliant idea of visiting the Coca Cola store, which I initially thought would be super lame and a tourist trap, but it turned out to be totally worthwhile when we got to the second floor and say that there was a Coke Bar, where you could order all sorts of Coke products from around the world (B had Mexican coke - made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup) or get flavored Coke (I had a Diet Cherry, J had Diet Chocolate) or Coke Floats (other J had Coke with Vanilla ice cream). Mia, B and I went back to our apartment and left J&J to have kid-inappropriate Vegas fun.

The next evening, Mia stayed in with her Lola and B and I had another instance of hyperactivity from being baby-free for the evening. We started with a drink at Diablo's (have I mentioned how much I love Margaritas?) for no other reason than it was conveniently located in their hotel. Then, we headed to Raku, a restaurant off the strip that J had found on one of his foodie blogs, for another amazing meal. It is in China town, sort of hidden in a strip mall, but apparently very well reviewed. According to J, it's open until 3 am because so many of the fancy Chefs go there after their Strip restaurants close. They serve non-sushi Japanese food in small plates, and each dish came out better than the next. Just to name a few, we had a Sashimi salad with spinash and a spicy dressing, grilled yellow tail belly, friend shrimp (no batter, and unpeeled - when instructed to eat it whole, we complied and were not sorry), grilled mushrooms, grilled duck, and grilled pork cheek. All amazing. We then headed over to catch the tail end of a party, but left once the Terror brought us down from our baby-free-high.

We tried to make the next day relaxing and low key, so the boys headed to a sports bar to watch the Bears game, my Mom, J, Mia and I had a quick meal at a Thai restaurant and bought some cupcakes for dessert. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at our apartment, and B drove J&J to the airport. When he came home we all sort of collapsed in front of the T.V. dreading our return to work. Mia seemed to have maxed our her good behavior for the weekend and screamed for a good 45 minutes, nipping our thoughts of having a relaxing evening in the bud.

Now, I'm at work sans-Mia, and I'm thinking I'll take advantage of this week to rest up for the next, when my Dad and Brother arrive for Thanksgiving and RV-palooza (to fulfill one of my Dad's bucket list items)!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remember Me, Pot? It's The Kettle.

I'd like to formally title this blog post, "Remember me, Pot? I'm the Kettle you keep calling black."

So, the party was...interesting.

From the time she stepped in the door YY acted like nothing was wrong. And honestly, I don't know if I like that or if it just made me even more irked. The jury is still out on that one.

She was all "huggie" and sweet to the point of saccharin.

At one point early in the evening, while Tybalt was munching on Cheerios, she came up to him and said to me, "Don't you just love Cheerios? They are just a lifesaver sometimes. 'Terror' (what I am official re-naming her son, just wait and continue reading) used to love Cheerios." UM, WHAT? OUR LATEST FIGHT WAS OVER ME FEEDING MY SON CHEERIOS BECAUSE THEY ARE MADE OF WHITE FLOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WTH?

But okay, fine, uber Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I'll let that one slide. After all, I'm the one that wants things to go smoothly and I thought she was bonkers for not agreeing with Cheerios to begin with.

The following is however where the Pot apparently forgot that she herself is black. She questions and belittles my parenting philosophies and skills all the time. But let me now illustrate hers last night (please note, I know full well in expounding on her parenting and in fact criticizing it, I am sinking to her level, but...yeah, you just gotta hear this, it's too unbelievable to pass up):

As soon as YY and her husband arrived, they headed to the buffet of food and the wet bar, and their 9-year-old son, 'Terror' was left to his own devices. Now, normally this would not be the end of the world with most 9-year-old children. I believe most know how to behave themselves. When I was 9 I did. However, Terror is not most 9-year-old children. First of all, it should be said that it is rumored (YY has told some of us he has it and to others she has denied it) that he has ADD. YY however refuses to medicate because of her disbelief in Western Medicine. Now, coming from an education background, I have worked with lots of children with ADD. When medicated it can be kept under control. When not, well, it depends on the child and the parents. If the parents discipline well, some children have less problems. But when there is both no medication and no discipline--in my experience all hell usually breaks loose. And guess who doesn't believe in discipline? Because after all, discipline "destroys the parental bond." And "we should be our children's friends." So her answer is to blame Terror's behavior problems on processed food and avoid things like WHITE FLOUR CHEERIOS and food preservatives and blindly believe all will be well.

So, anyway, the night started innocently enough with Terror running back and forth between the "children's area" (i.e. a separate tv the hosts had set-up for animated movies and video games) and the buffet. However he grabbed food with no plate or napkin for spills, crumbs, etc. (If I acted like that at 9 at someone else's home, let alone my own, my parents would have never taken me out again.) And literally the ONLY acknowledgement from YY was about an hour into the party when she happened to look up and see him reach into the chip bowl with both hands--"Terror, one hand please. One hand." And when Terror didn't listen? YY sighed and turned back around to her drink and watching the boxing match. (The party was a group of us watching the Pacquiao fight on PPV.)

(P.S. So now Doritos are acceptable food? My head was starting to spin already.)

Many of you might be thinking, "All of that doesn't sound so bad." But keep in mind the following: 1) This woman is so quick to attack others for what they do and don't do. 2) In her attacks she always claims to subscribe to certain PERFECT parenting philosophies.

Anway, Terror progressed from making a mess and not listening to his mother, who honestly didn't even seem to care that much what he was doing anyway, to starting to run around the upstairs level of the house. It was the 'Host's Wife' who politely asked him to stay on the ground floor. His mother, again, either didn't care what her son was up to, or didn't feel it rude for her son to be running around someone else's house without permission. Plus, I'll give you one guess as to whether Terror listened to and obeyed 'Host's Wife' when asked to stay on the first floor? That would be a resounding no.

Finally, at probably about the 3 hour mark (the time is a little sketchy because he wasn't found out immediately) of little to no intervention, or even basic attention, from his mother (or father either--perhaps another post another time?), Terror found a Bic torch lighter, you know the ones with the large handle and long neck, that 'Host" uses to light his cigarettes, and Terror proceeded to run around the house (both floors, still!) with the lighter! A 9-year-old...with a lighter...running around...with other younger school aged children watching in awe and admiration. And he knew how to use it! We found out because he kept lighting candles downstairs (and I don't even want to know what he lit upstairs more than likely) and 'Host's Wife' kept blowing said candles out, wondering how they were being lit and what was going on, until my own husband, Romeo, found Terror with the lighter.

Now, my Romeo is not one to put his nose in other people's business, especially when it comes to parenting (YY's and my spats drive him crazy for both reasons) but when he saw not only a 9-year-old with a lighter, but said 9-year-old's parents nowhere to be found, he immediately stepped in, let's just say "raised" his voice, and told Terror to stop it and put it back where he found it. Luckily, for once in his life, Terror obeyed. (My money is on the "raised" voice. Not only did it probably shock him because his parents never even attempt to discipline, but Terror has known Romeo for a number of years and has probably never heard Romeo's "raised voice" because Romeo hardly if ever uses it at home, let alone in public.)

So, lessons of the night?

Terror will be Terror. YY will be YY (whoever that is, I've yet to figure it out).

And Romeo saved the house from burning down and all of us in it from frying to a crisp.

Bonus--by seeing it with his own two eyes and having to do so, I couldn't shut Romeo up in the car on the way home about what a mess the whole "Y" family is. I think he's finally seen YY for what she is, Terror Y for the problem child he is, and Mr. Y? Well, even I saw a new side of him last night. I think we both did. He was just as aloof and weird as his wife. And that's never been my experience with him before, so more to ponder on. And yes, probably more posts to eventually write! :P

But for now I will take the fact that it looks like I have an ally in Romeo. Not that he didn't take my side before, but he never really wanted to get involved. Now however, he seems to totally VOCALLY agree YY is not only a hypocrite but a little bonkers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

To Be Continued

Tonight is the party. It's been confirmed that YY will be there. Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Luck!

Mommy and the Sin City won BlogHer's Wednesday NaBloPoMo drawing!

Definitely sign up for the BlogHer contests, because they're real!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What To Do?

Two posts from Juliet in one day? What???? Yeah, I know. But there's stuff on my mind.

In this case, the "stuff" is what to do about that toxic friend/non-friend I wrote about recently. See, I took Frenchie's advice and feel passive aggressive is my best option right now at least for keeping my sanity and for making as few tidal waves in the friend circle we both run in as possible.

However, passive aggressive can work well like on facebook, but I am going to a party this Saturday night that "YY", let's call her that because I failed to give her a name before, will more than likely be at. After all, it's hosted by Tybalt's Godparents, who are friends with both of us.

Assuming she's there, what do I do? I've seen her before, obviously, while times have been tough between us, but I've been in a better state emotionally. And with my fragile (read: depressed) mental state right now about everything else, I just don't feel like I have the same "grin and bear it" resolve that I have been able to muster up before.

I WILL NOT start a "thing" (a fight, an issue, a scene, whatever you want to call it). I'm not that kind of person. I not only have far too much respect for those around me, but what I hope I also got across in my last post about YY is that I'm not the one that's ever started any of the stuff between the two of us! However, if she is snippy to me, I am more afraid of the fact that I might lose it and either cry and/or have a panic attack where I start sweating and shaking and hyperventilating. Her online and text comments and rants have caused me in the past to do both. And I definitely cannot do either Saturday night. I cannot break down in front of everyone and cause a scene.

So, what to do? How to handle the situation? I need moral support.

This Cheers Me Up

I've been feeling down the last few days. I had a crying fit in front of/to Romeo last night. It's mainly over the baby blues and not being able to have another one right now. Anyway, I don't have anything exciting to post due to my mood. But I did want to share this picture because it makes me smile. Tybalt ate his first orange a couple weeks ago, and I caught the moment on camera:


Oooh! Tart!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Decidedly un-American of me.

I'm not an American. I am a U.S. citizen, but has only been the case for the past five years or so. As I have elaborately explained in my About Me post, I didn't grow up in the U.S. I've been living here for a long time now, though, almost 15 years now. But there is one thing that still makes me decidedly un-American: my inability to understand Football.

I married into a family to whom football is a part of life. This means that it has also taken over my life for the better portion of fall and winter. B wanted us to name our son (or daughter) Payton - for Walter Payton (no). B's family has had coveted season tickets to the Chicago Bears home games for the past four generations. Each generation has named their children a variation of [Italian first name] in order to keep the tickets in the family for as long as possible (Something I will do my best to resist perpetuating). When we first talked about the possibility of moving here, Brian's first (and only real hesitation) was leaving his season tickets behind, after only one year of it being "his turn" (a few thousand dollars I was less than thrilled to fork over).

We found a Chicago Bear-themed sports bar here in Las Vegas that opened early on Sundays and played the games on one big TV. Last year, being the dutiful new wife who felt guilty for asking her husband to move West, I tagged along every Sunday and some Monday nights. I sat in an uncomfortable chair while my sciatic nerve was killing me during the end of my first and beginning of my second trimester. I couldn't even partake in the fun part - a free shot for every touchdown! I wasn't terribly happy to be doing it, but because Sundays are our only days off together, I thought it was more important for us to spend time together.

Until last year, I had never "tried" to understand. The fact that every Bears game was on local TV meant that I didn't have to. B could sit on the couch, while I walked around the neighborhood, ran errands, or did some hoursework. But last season, and this season, every game is an event. I tried. I really did. I can do it, there are no distractions. I sat in front of the TV, I asked questions, everything. I...just... don't... get... it. I get the basics. Run from one end of the field to the other without getting stopped. Cool. But, why does the game stop every 15 seconds? And why is that guy kicking something now? (You can try to answer these questions, but I'm telling you, I still won't get it) This week, the Bears played Monday night football (which is for some reason special because there is a theme song). Mia and I sat on the couch while B screamed and yelled at the TV. He'd turn to me and say: "Did you see that _____?". No, I honestly didn't. "That guy just hit that other guy really hard, did you see it?" Nope. I may have been staring at the screen, but I didn't even SEE what happened.


Is the game OVER yet??

This year, we have to plan ahead: is the game going to be available on TV? Do we have to go to a restaurant (no bars anymore! there's a baby!)? But this time, I've given up. At least I have the baby to talk to now, instead of having to bring my Kindle around.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excuses

You've no doubt read about my in-laws. Ugh. I have a pretty good relationship with my mother-in-law and a "horrible, no-good, very bad" relationship with my father-in-law.

Well, FIL is still in town for another week. So for the last three months, MIL and I have not visited much. And for her to see Tybalt, my husband has had to bring him over to her house, where FIL stays (even though they are divorced) while he is in town.

In general, MIL has still gotten to see Tybalt quite a bit. At least once a week. And that's not like "a couple hours long visit" once a week--that's a full overnight, even often two nights in a row, visit every week.

**(I believe that's actually MORE than "quite a bit" but that's perhaps another upcoming blog post. How often do "local" grandparents normally see their grandchildren? I had one "local" grandmother and I saw her maybe once a month--as in go to Grandma's for the afternoon once a month. Sleepover? That was more like twice a year. Which one is the odd frequency? I can see a weekly visit, but Grandma wanting a weekly sleepover? Um, yeah this has started to be an issue bouncing around in my head. But...anyway...)**

But we got a call last week that FIL had gotten a shingles shot, and because of such could not be around any child for two weeks.

So, I guess MIL is going through Tybalt withdrawl.

How do I know this? Her text last night: "Are you going to be home tomorrow? I bought the baby some Christmas socks, but they look small, so I want to come over and try them on him."

I don't even know how to finish this post. I believe it finishes itself--was that not a bit of a stretch of an excuse to come over and cuddle with her grandson? Why does she think she has to make excuses? Can't she just say she misses him (and me, I would hope) and ask if she can come visit?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meeting Bloggers: What would you do?

This weekend, Swistle posted about the possibility of running into a blogger in real life. Lately, this notion has taken an active place in my every day musings. It's nothing dramatic - just a funny situation in which I will soon find myself. If anyone is out there, I really would like some feedback on what YOU would actually do if you were in the position of meeting someone you *think* you already know well, you know, virtually. Keep in mind that I do not share this blog with my immediate friends or family. This is an entirely anonymous-from-real-life forum for me. I may not do too much to hide my identity, but I do not advertise to people I know that I write here. This may change in the future, but for now, this is my decision.

I started to regularly read blogs right around the time I got married and toyed with the possibility of becoming pregnant. I wanted insight on being a Mom, and I started reading all sorts of Mommy bloggers. Law Moms, Stay at Home Moms, Work at Home Moms. Before I started regularly following my favorites (all of whom are in my bloglist), there was one blog that I had tuned into now and then for several years. I won't say who, but one of these bloggers is a real-life friend of a very good friend of mine, who I went to high school with. I had visited her blog ages ago becase my high school friend had talked about her a few times, and I was curious.

This blogger is popular - not Swistle or Amalah popular - but certainly popular, so I doubt she's read Mommy and the Sin City. I'm not trying to be self-deprecating or anything, we haven't been around that long, I'm fine with it. As Swistle said, it's impossible to say whether you like someone based on their blog. You like (or don't like) the things they write about, their manner of writing, etc. I'm often a pretty fickle person, and I am even more so in the case of bloggers. To be completely honest, I am not sure she and I would be great friends if I knew her in real life. We probably have very different senses of humor, different attitudes and personalities. But I do like her blog, and enjoy most of her posts and insights. I think this has to do with the fact that I've been following her blog longer than others, and feel like I actually "know" this person, and often re-tell her stories, even going so far as referring to her as "a friend". (Gah! Embarassing!) In the end though, I do like this blogger a lot.

Onto my actual point. This blogger and I will be attending the same event, an overnight and small event, because of our common friend. Our common friend, by the way, knows that I've read the blog, but does not know that I write one myself. I'm not having any kind of "OMG I'M GOING TO MEET HER SQUEEE" feelings, I'm just mostly not sure how I am supposed to act. I do feel mildly embarassed to know so much about this person when this person doesn't know me (I assume). I suppose this is something you become accustomed to, if you are a popular blogger. Do I pull her aside and tell her that I've read her blog? Do I not mention it, and if she says something to me that I already know, tell her then? Do I just pretend that I don't know her at all? For now, I'm inclined to do the latter. What do YOU think? I honestly want an answer here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wine Novice

I would like to open this blog post to anyone and everyone who can be of help and offer their suggestions. I would like to know more about wine. Specifically what wines I might like best. I can tell you this--as of now my favorite wine costs about 4 bucks and can be purchased at the local grocery store.

I want to be a wine connoisseur. I wish I knew all about wines, or at the very least what all the common wines are (merlot, white zinfandel, etc.). But unfortunately, I've never learned much. Partly because the few pricey ones I've tried I just don't care for. And if you are repeatedly disappointed by something, where is the motivation to keep trying? But in all honesty I'd love to learn more and thus learn what my favorite wine or two really are. To be able to go into a restaurant, see the wine list, and pick out exactly what I want. To not be disappointed when I order based simply on the brief description, and then turn out not liking it.

What I can tell you is I like fruit, citrus, berries. I don't like licorice or wood. Okay, I actually don't know if I like wood or not, so I'd be up for experimenting in that department. But definitely no on the licorice flavor.

For right now, embarrassingly enough, my two favorite "wines" (I use that term loosely) are both Wild Vines brand: Strawberry White Zinfandel, and Blackberry Merlot. I believe I probably like these because they are so highly flavored--I've never been one who likes a strong alcohol flavor. And I do find most REAL fine wines taste strongly of alcohol, so, I guess if I want to like wine more, I might have to bite that bullet, but still...

Oh, I am also a fan of Sangria. Again, I'm betting that's because of all the fruit infused into the flavor.

But anyway, I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to what wines I might be interested in trying. Feel free to comment and ask me more questions about my tastes. All help and suggestions appreciated!

P.S. I just heard of a winery via the Food Network called Cupcake Vineyards, and they make a wine based on my all time favorite dessert--Red Velvet! It's description is: “Our first blended red wine for Cupcake Vineyards has over the top aromas of chocolate, deep rich blackberries, red fruits that follow through the palate to a creamy mocha finish that is unmistakable in its intensity and length, with a hint of coconut. It’s reminiscent of a blackberry chocolate cupcake with a mocha coulis.”

Um, can you say yum? :) Maybe that will be my first venture outside the "2 Buck Chuck" as my husband calls my cheap-o wine selections.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On having a daughter

When I was first pregnant, I thought I was having a boy. I wanted to have a boy. Thinking back, I'm not sure why. Perhaps something to do with B being the only boy in his family (of his generation). Now that we actually have her, I couldn't be more thrilled with the idea of raising a girl.

At five months, Mia is adorable and so much fun. She babbles and giggles and has tons of hair that I get to put bows in. Even though she's already a bundle of personality, I'm sure this is nothing compared to what she will be like in a few years (or even months!). I think back on what I was like as a girl, and so many of the things I liked then are somehow related to the things I like now. My mom has so many stories of me singing everywhere and at anytime. I don't have any particular kind of talent, but I definitely still enjoy a good Karaoke performance now and then. My mom also tells stories of me having either a book, or a doll, or both with me at all times, whether we were going to Church, or out for brunch, or on a long trip. I look forward to sharing these things with her as she grows up, and hope she takes as much joy out of them as I did (and do!).

My favorite book from 2nd to 5th grade was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I felt so accomplished when I read it for the first time. It was a real novel, with chapters and no pictures! Although it was a pretty sad story, I would read it over and over, feeling as emotional every time. My mom still has my old battered hard bound copy, and I really look forward to handing it off to Mia when she gets to be the right age.

When I started pushing 'tween' age, I put A Little Princess aside, and picked up Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. If you think about it, it's really a similar story. Formerly wealthy girl(s) fall on hard times, experience some tragedy, and overcome everything for a happy ending. I had two copies of this one, one in French ("Les Quatres Filles du Docteur March" - The Four Daughters of Doctor March) and one in English. I read them over and over, only varying the language.

In my Freshman English class, we read Pride and Prejudice, my first Jane Austen novel. I think I was too young to appreciate it the first time I read it, because it wasn't until I heard that Bridget Jones's Diary was based on it that I picked it up again and really appreciated it. I watch the 4+ hour BBC Pride and Prejudice a few times a year. Now, I've read all Jane Austen except for Northanger Abbey which for some reason I haven't been able to get sucked into. Again, it's a similar type of story!

I have a feeling that I'll be quite heartbroken if, inevitably, Mia (or any of my future children) don't have the same appreciation for these stories as I do. I can't imagine too many teenage kids these days spending an afternoon watching anything produced by BBC, with the small budgets and lack of flashiness. As long as she (they) like Harry Potter (which I have read at least as many times as Pride and Prejudice), something I unfortunately had to wait until I was a teenager to experience and love, I supposed I can get by!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mom Jeans

There have been a few changes over here at Mommy and the Sin City. First, I finally (after a few comments about having trouble reading the blog title and heading) changed our template and background. I liked the crazy bird drawings from before, but I like making simple, aesthetic changes once in a while. Not sure how long this one will be here, I'm already having some second thoughts. Too much pink, maybe?

I've become a member of BlogHer, and added us to their blog directory. I signed our blog up for NaBloPoMo, since apparently November is National Blog Posting Month. The rules are simple, you have to post every day for a month. I figure, since we've been doing so well already, might as well give us some extra momentum. Sorry Juliet, I probably should have consulted with you first! No worries though, I think we can do it. If you're interested in joining NaBloPoMo, click on the icon to the left and it will bring you over there. (You've got until tomorrow to sign up if you want to be on "the list") If you get stuck without any inspiration, they've got daily suggestions that you can follow. Apparently, there are also prizes!

Now that those announcements are done... onto Blog content.

My dedication to the South Beach Diet has waned, significantly. Although I still want to lose weight (Jillian Michaels, 3 times a week, yoga on the alternate days!) the whole no-sugar thing stopped working about 3 weeks into the whole thing. I don't have much direction on the weight-loss road anymore, but I am trying to consciously make good choices (Today: greek yogurt for breakfast, turkey sandwich on whole grain bread for lunch, turkey burger on a whole grain bun with a side salad for dinner - turkey twice was not intentional, but not bad). I'm still losing weight, but not quite at the SBD pace that I set for myself in weeks 1 and 2.

Unfortunately (and realistically), this means that I have not hit my goal of fitting back into my regular sized jeans before the colder weather hit Las Vegas. I put them on in week 3 and found that I was still inches away from buttoning them. Last week, there were a few days when I looked totally ridiculous coming into work in capri pants, when the rest of the office has already busted out their jackets and full length slacks. So, off to the Gap I went, trying on every single pair of jeans they had in their store, one size up from my regular size. It was one of those times when I didn't want to just to pick a pair, but wanted to hold out for a flattering pair that would make me feel confident, that I would actually wear. A pair that didn't look like the dreaded MOM JEANS.

I realized that I would have to stay away from my staple low/mid rise jeans. Now, I need the extra support to hold up the post-baby wiggly belly. If I put any kind of waist band across my pooch, it muffin tops like crazy. Even a jersey skirt with a loose waist looks dumb if it cuts me off at the wrong place. It turns out, there isn't a section of the store that sells "Mom jeans" that you are supposed to avoid. Every pair of jeans I put on, whether they looked totally trendy on the mannequin or not, were in fact... Mom Jeans. It's not so much the jeans that make them Mom jeans, but the one who is wearing them. I hoped for something trendier, something that I could tuck into my boots when I got colder, but I couldn't find the perfect combination of mid/high rise and slim leg. Instead, I settled for these:

Photo curtesy of Gap.com
They may not look like Mom Jeans on that model, but I promise you that they are. Hopefully this whole Mom Jean phenomenon is only temporary, and my belly does shrink back a little bit. But for now, I look nice. And nice is better than I would look if I tried to squeeze into my old, decidedly non-Mom jeans.

Adoption

I want to adopt.

When I was in my late teens/early twenties and had very few romantic prospects, I openly told anyone who asked that my plan was to adopt if I was still single by age 35. While I am now only age 27, married, and already have a son, I still do want to adopt. And now sooner rather than later. I have been told that due to the heart complications from my pregnancy with Tybalt, that I MUST not have another natural child. My odds of surviving what happened were about 75% (one out of every four women die), so I am a miracle to be living as it is. If I get pregnant again, the mortality rate changes to 50%. Those are not odds I want to gamble with. And even if by some small chance I did want to throw caution to the wind, my husband has said ABSOLUTELY NOT. Can I blame him? No.

But I always wanted 4 children. Romeo actually never really planned on marrying and having kids until meeting me, so our compromise became 2 children if we were blessed with one of each gender, or 3 if the first 2 were the same sex, so that we could try for the other. After 3 we would assume we had what God wanted us to and stop there no matter what. (Is it okay to admit that as much as I love my son more than life itself, I've always wanted a girl, so when our ultrasound showed us we were expecting a boy, I took a bit of solace knowing we were still going to try for a girl later.)

Enter the fact that now I have just one child, and of course being the miracle he is gender does not matter, but I've been told I can never get pregnant again, and it's driving me mad! Looney! Horribly sad and disappointed. You get the idea. I just don't think our family is complete. No matter whether we are destined for another wonderful boy or a sweet girl, it's just not complete.

So, I want to adopt. Here are the 2 main roadblocks currently, however:

1) While Romeo and I have discussed adoption and he is open to it, he has been honest in that he doesn't feel the same longing right now as I do for another child. After seeing me so medically fragile and having to face the reality he might have had to parent alone, he is just grateful I am okay and our son is healthy. He has said he is satisfied, at least for now, with the size and make-up of our family. During these honest conversations he has also said that he admits he can't predict how he will feel "down the road" and that maybe in a handful of years he will want another child. And if that is the case, he is all for adoption. But as for now, he is content. So, what that means is that while I want to start to do the research and fill out the apps, and do what is needed to get on a program's list now, seeing it could take quite a while to actually be matched and adopt even after we are officially approved to do so, Romeo just isn't ready yet. And so, I wait. And try harder to convince him in the meantime.

2) The money. I am ashamed to say it, but we have no savings. Nada. We would have to start saving bit by bit now, and with our meager budget that is extremely hard. So, I just don't know how we could ever afford it. Yes, I know fostering-to-adopt is an option many perspective parents use, but I really don't think it's for me. My hat goes off to those who can, but I just don't think I have it in me. First of all, I don't think I could handle caring for a child yet knowing everyday they could be reunited with their parents. In fact, that is actually the goal in most foster cases--to reunite the parent(s) and child after the parent(s) learn the error of their ways and are rehabilitated. Secondly, most foster system children are school-aged. I risk sounding selfish, I know, but I want to adopt an infant, a newborn particularly. I missed out on SO much of Tybalt's early development, and I want that with my second child.

Anyway, those are my musings for the night.

P.S. Don't be surprised if I start to add some adoption mother blogs to our Mommy In The Sin City favorites list. I have started to find a number that are very interesting and supportive for all women to read, be you a biological mother, birth mother, adoptive mother, or a woman attempting or contemplating being a parent-- be it naturally or through adoption.