Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A little Memory Lane....

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. And though I never was a big NYE celebrator, since I've lived in Downtown San Antonio, I kind of have to be, since we have a spectacular view of the city's fabulous fireworks display.

That means we have a party. Even if we don't plan one ;)

And that's what makes me nostalgic. I really love planning parties. I inherited that gene from both my mom and my dad, party planners extraordinaires.

Why nostalgia? Well, in every city I've lived, I've hosted parties and now I'm remembering all the fun of preparing them with roommates and friends. Oh the fun of knowing "this" dish was the favourite of one friend (baba gahnouj for Ian), while another dish was the favourite of another friend (roasted red pepper yoghurt for Jacintha). And then there are the dishes I've borrowed from friends over the years: Pate de Crab from Coralie. Artichoke dip and crab dip from Brandi. The tapenade I first made for the 98 France vs. Brazil World Cup Final. And the all time favourite California 7 layer dip that a few friends would fight over. The fiery enchiladas I made for Siew-li, Jonathan and Luis in Oxford.

I change the menu all the time, bringing in new things and keeping some old standbys. But the fun of preparing never ends, except that I miss my friends, now scattered across the globe. Fortunately, I have new friends in San Antonio, giving me the opportunity to plan another party.

So for tomorrow, we'll have:
Hummus
Tapenade
Paté de crab w/avocado mayonnaise (homemade)
Albondigas w/garlic mayo (homemade)
Spinach + artichoke dip
Tuna stuffed jalepenos (thanks to cousin Susan!)
French herbed cheese
California 7 layer dip
crudité with Fredo's herb sauce
Tamales
and a few things some friends will bring.

And don't forget the drinks:
Fredo is usually the master sangria maker, but as it's winter, we'll try something else - mulled wine and for the non-drinkers (and kids) jamaica flower water (with some rum nearby should anyone choose...)


As for Angelina, she already helped me make the hummus. And unless lightening strikes tomorrow and the world changes, she will be up until Midnight, being the life of the party. Try as we might, this child will NOT sleep if there's a party going on anywhere in the vicinity. She doesn't want to miss out. I blame Nanny and Opa for passing on THAT gene.

And not to be forgetten, the other girl in the family

Chakapu....
Poor thing, she's been neglected lately, due in part to my developing allergy to cat hair. It's not that bad, but I have to wash my hands as soon as I pet her and I can let her lay to close to me or I have a sneezing fit.


So she's taken to occupying Angelina's chair whenever possible. Perhaps that way she'll get more love?










And then there's the devil...oops, angel child.
I should fix these photos, because they're actually quite sweet. Angelina was playing Grandmaman Gisele's old guitar and was very cute about it.

But I think the flash captured something else, something which often lurks in this child.... she's the sweetest Angel one minute, and then she seems possessed by something very un-angel like. I don't know where she gets that.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Little Daredevil

Since it was such a nice day, today we went to Palmetto State Park for a little hike along the San Marcos River. Angelina had mixed feelings about it all. She loved riding in Papa's sac à dos (backpack), until he took out his binoculars to look at birds. Then she went insane wanting the binoculars. We eventually managed to calm her down, partly by distracting her with my camera.





However the highlight was not seeing woodpeckers or birds of prey, but the slide at the parking area. We lost track of how many times she went down; 100 would be a fair estimate.









But then she started going UP: video video

Don't be fooled by Papa "helping", she'd already done this on her own a few times by this point.

Christmas in San Antonio

Not exactly a white Christmas, unless you count the blinding sun reflecting off the white sidewalks....it was HOT! However, Angelina insisted on wearing her "Snowman" - apparently that's what a hat, scarf, mitten ensemble is called. Our neighbors, Gloria and Fredo, got a set for her and she wouldn't take it off, even if it was 82F (28C).



It was pretty funny seeing her face when she first saw the presents under the tree. She didn't realize they were all for her. She was excited for the first one - a horse on a stick that Papa made and started handing the rest of the presents to us to open. We said "No, these are for YOU!" She hesitated through the first few, but got the hang of it and decided this presents thing was pretty fun after all....


Angelina certainly enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, even if she didn't have all her cousins to play with. Christmas Eve was spent with friends, including her favourites: Wiley and Felice, and Christmas Day was a Dora Marathon AND a bike ride on the Riverwalk. At one point along the Riverwalk, we had stopped to turn around when one of the boats came past and stopped as well. The guide said something about Angelina and the cameras started flashing. I wish I had a picture - she was sitting on the back of the bike in her helmet and green sun glasses. She didn't pose for a change, instead she just gave her movie star look as the papparazzi snapped away. So though I have no pictures, there are a ton of pictures out there somewhere....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our visit with Santa and why I love Lavaca, part XIV

Let me preface this by saying Angelina doesn't really "know" Santa Claus (Pere Noel). Not for any philosophical reason, we've just never gotten 'round to talking about him. Maybe that makes us lame-o parents, but in any case, Santa Claus is a foreign concept. Of course, if I thought threats of Santa not coming would help her behave, I'd be talking about Santa left and right....

So on to why I love Lavaca. This wasn't actually in the 'hood, but close enough to ride our bikes, so it counts as a reason to love it. The city hosted a Winter Holiday Spectacular! at HemisFair Park. Santa was there for pictures (and no waiting in line), there was a snow slide, then in the evening Movies by Moonlight (aka Slab Cinema aka Angela and Rick, our neighbors) showed "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "A Christmas Story," and "It's a Wonderful Life" on the lawn. One of the great things about San Antonio was that it was 75F (24C) during the day and only a little cooler once the sun went down. Great for watching outdoor movies! (Not so great for snow...the environmentalist in me cringes at the idea of trying to create a "Winter Wonderland" when it's in the 70sF, but the mom in me admits it was kind of cool...) Of course, today it's 46F (8C) and super windy. Then later in the week it'll be in the 80s again.

So back to Santa. Angelina is normally quite happy to talk to any random person. Wherever we go she says "Hi" to everyone she sees. Apparently the big red suit and white beard threw her off and my arguments of "He's just like Opa" didn't fly. We walked up slowly, she ran behind me and clutched my pants, afraid to even look. Santa was wonderful and chatted with her and did everything to make her comfortable, but she wasn't having it. We stuck around for awhile, she took my camera (as usual), and started taking pictures. So we now have about 20 pictures of Santa, and some of Santa with a little boy named Raymond, to whom Angelina kept saying "Smile!" as she clicked away, but none of her with Santa. She even told the other kids to go sit with Santa. But not her.

To be honest I'm kind of glad she doesn't know to "ask Santa" for presents. But I don't know how long that will last. For now, I think she'd be happy with a huge bowl of tortellinis.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crazy Child

I have no idea what this is, but for awhile she insisted on pulling her sweatshirt over her head. Note, she wouldn't wear an actual hood, just this.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A weekend of vaccines

Angelina finally got her flu "shot" yesterday. A bit late in the season, fortunately the flu season hasn't been too bad this year so far. It wasn't really a shot, she's old enough for the flu mist so that's what we did. Nancy, our nurse at work gave it to her and both Nancy and Angelina did great! Angelina doesn't like to be fussed with and especially has issues with anyone touching her nose, so I wasn't sure how it'd go. But she blew her nose and let Nancy squirt and we're good to go! She was just happy showing off for everyone at the office.



Next up was Chakapu. I'm a couple of months late for her annual shots, and given the rabies human post-exposure vaccine shortage (I'm vaccinated but Angelina and Fredo are not) and the fact there have been a couple of cats positive for rabies in our county, I knew I'd better not take any chances. So off we went today for her yearly pokes. Poor cat, as soon as she went into the car she started the most horrible cry and at the office she cowered in the corner. But the staff is excellent and she was done in no time. All healthy!

but now she's disappeared....she'll be back, but she's probably mad at me :(




oops, I spoke too soon. Not long after I wrote this Angelina spiked a fever. She'd been cranky all day but we just chalked that up to lack of sleep. It's likely due to the flu mist and expected, but I don't like seeing my little one feeling ill!


Sunday Update: Last night was rough. Angelina had a lot of screaming sessions and fever, but now seems ok. Chakapu is another story. I thought she was out all day, but in fact she was hiding inside. She's laying very still and quiet...I hope she's ok.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More fun witth photography


Try as I may, I can't convince her to turn the camera around. At least not very often.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Look at Me! Look at Me!"

Is this a sign of what's to come? This is her favourite phrase: "Look at me!" And now it's not just Maman and Papa, but the neighbors too. Poor Fredo (next door Fredo) was trying to work on his house, when Angelina kept shouting "Ick* look at me!" He'd turn around and say hi, she'd do it again, and again. I finally told him it was OK to ignore her, as she'd do it all day.

*Ick = Rick = other next door neighbor whom she used to call "Daddy." Now she knows his name is Rick, but can't quite get the R, so calls him "ick." But now instead of thinking all men are called "Daddy", she thinks all men are called "Rick." I kept telling her, "No, that's Fredo" (which she can say perfectly as she tends to call Papa that**). So she'd say "Fick."


And now our neighbor Angela is no longer called "Mommy" but "Gela." Much to her delight, Angelina has taken to calling "Gela! Gela! Gela!" with nothing to actually say when "Gela" turns her attention to her. She just keeps saying it over and over.

Good thing we have such great neighbors!


** I hate the idea of a husband and wife calling each other mom/dad (or Maman/Papa). I can kind of see why that evolves though. Angelina has taken to saying "Fredo" instead of "Papa" which drives us both crazy. We need to find other nicknames for each other.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I gave birth to a choco-holic

How did that happen? Has to be the Swiss genes, certainly not mine. I like the stuff ok but if I never had it again I wouldn't be too disappointed. Angelina, however, has a nose for chocolate. She can find it anywhere. She now knows where it's "hidden" (locked in the wine fridge) and likes to turn on the light staring at it longingly.

The other night we had friends over for dinner and of course Frédéric brought out the chocolate. Then she saw it. She kept climbing up and sneaking away pieces. And what did she ask for as soon as she woke up on Sunday morning? "Maman! Chocolate please!"

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pomme!

Our little bilingual kid....
She loves to say "Apple" over and over again. All fruit is an 'apple.' For weeks, months, Frédéric would say "Pomme" and she would ignore him.

Today, she kept saying "I want apple!" Then she looked up at Frédéric and said "Pomme, Papa!"

She's begining to distinguish the French and the English! Finally!

Now if Maman could only learn French too.....


And yet more of Angelina's photography skills, here

Friday, November 28, 2008

Birthing Options

No, #2 is not on the way, but here's a pretty balanced article about birthing options
Homebirth

In my next life I may become a doula and lactation consultant. Fredo once asked if I'd thought about being a midwife, but that's too much work! I prefer birth coach.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What We're Thankful For

Mostly today, we're thankful Kyle, Marisa, and Glen are in Mumbai but safe. I literally burst into tears when I saw Marisa's email saying they were ok (and I presume Prachet and Shweta are nowhere near Mumbai or she would have said so). I spent last night in knots, worrying.

Also made me realize something. The world is a different place when you have a kid. Every horrible event takes on new meaning when you're thinking of the future of your kid, when you travel and "safe" places are not so safe anymore. We didn't go to Prachet and Shweta's wedding, though we seriously considered it (new roof and all got in the way). I'd been so envious of Kyle and Marisa going. Now I just keep thinking "what if?" I've been in some hairy situations (tho none this bad), but with Angelina, well, I shudder when I think about it.

But the gang is safe. And I'm thankful. VERY thankful. And I am so very sorry for those who weren't so lucky. For those who lost loved ones in this senseless act.

So tonight I'm especially thankful I can hug and kiss my wonderful husband and amazing daughter, and go to sleep knowing the people I love are safe.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A weekend of fun!

Angelina got to meet more family. On Friday night, Annie (Aunt Helen Ann) called to say she was driving from Florida to Arizona and could she stop in San Antonio for a bit? Sure! As far as Angelina is concerned, that means a whole new audience! As usual, she was in good form (Angelina AND Annie), at least most of the time (Angelina that is).



However, she couldn't quite figure out that "Annie" was not "Nanny", so that's Annie's new name :Nanny. She still knows the 'real' Nanny in California, but just like "Mommy", there can be more than one "Nanny!"


We took a tour of the Alamo, Menger, and Riverwalk downtown, then showed her where we got married at Mission San Jose.







Angelina had fun playing photographer. For her artistic impressions, click here

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tour de France, here we come!


Angelina has fallen in love with bikes, at least when someone else is pedaling.

I had been talking about buying a new bike for weeks, since my last good bike was stolen (some years ago) and my attempt to be cheap by replacing it with a yard sale find meant a bike that was bent and not ridable. And after 3+ years of "I can fix it" but it not being fixed, I finally decided it was time for a new one. To cement the plan, a couple of weeks ago Angelina rode in Angela's bike seat and fell in love.

Lucky for me, my birthday was coming up and Frédéric, always paying attention, decided to surprise me with a bike. Angelina got a present too, a bike seat. I haven't managed pictures of us riding yet, but suffice it to say we're having a blast! The first two days Angelina had her new bike helmet, she wouldn't take it off, she even wanted to sleep with it. I had to hide it during the week or we'd never hear the end of it.

And more pictures here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our little Polyglot kid

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!
Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit! (she stops at 8 because Dora stops at 'huit')

and now, thanks to Nana (her babysitter):
Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seises, siete, ocho, nueve, diez!

She says these all so well. I'm impressed.

MOM! MOM!...Mommy's Here! Mommy's here!!!

A little confused? Nah, she's just accepted that other women are called "mom."

I noted before how she called our neighbor Angela "Mommy" and then was confused. Now she doesn't seem to care. Or rather, she just calls her "Mom," since that's what Wiley calls her. So yesterday I went to get her after playing there for awhile (she thinks she lives there too and just wanders in...) she shouted to Angela, "Mom! Mom! Mommy's here!"

I thought it might bother me, having my child call someone else "mom", but turns out it doesn't. In fact, I kind of like it. It makes me think she sees Angela as close enough to call by a familiar name, and that's a good thing - especially when there are times when we have to turn to them for emergencies (like last January when I had emergency surgery). As it is, she thinks Wiley and Felice are her siblings.


On a related note, Saturday Angelina was outside playing on the steps when I heard her yell "Oh! Thank you!" I looked out to see her running over to the fence where our neighbor Fredo (yes, another Fredo) was lifting a little tricycle over the fence. Funny thing is he didn't call out to her and say it was for her, she just knew it was :) At least she was polite and said "Thank you!" right away. Fredo and Gloria saw it at a garage sale, thought of Angelina and bought it. They cleaned it up so it's like new.

What's just amazing is that though we have no family locally, we have so many people in our lives who see Angelina (and us) as part of their own extended family. So we feel like we have family around, but without the baggage ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If you're looking for pictures of Angelina Jolie Breastfeeding...

Wrong website.

Not that I mind, you can enjoy the lovely photos of our Angelina jolie (i.e. 'beautiful'), but I suspect this is not what you were looking for.

Ever since the picture of her came out in W breastfeeding one of her twins (which you can hardly tell) I've gotten lots of hits from people searching "angelina and boobs" on google.

But since I'm on the topic, kudos to her for breastfeeding her twins, and dang I wish I looked that gorgeous while nursing Angelina. I usually looked a wreck, and all Fredo's attempts to take a glowing picture of us nursing make my lack of sleep and exhaustion far too obvious. Ah well, it was worth it!

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Chauss-sock"


We're raising Angelina bilingual:Frederic speaks in French and I speak in English.

But sometimes she's mono-lingual and speaks Franglais, like when talking about socks and shoes. She knows the French words: chaussettes and chaussure, and the English versions, but lately she's been saying "chauss-sock" and "chauss-shoe."

We shouldn't let her, but it's too cute.

As for her speaking, she had been behind for some time. At 18 months we (ok, I) were a little concerned that she wasn't speaking at the appropriate level. The early-childhood intervention evaluators, however, found she was only 1-2 months behind so not in need of therapy. A few months later her developmental specialist said the same thing: she understood very well, but was a bit behind. No worries, this is common with a bilingual kid in the early days. Her language development has improved over the last 6 months or so, but it really took off last week.

That's what spending a week with Nanny will do.....the kid is talking non-stop. And clearly too. She skipped over mere words and sentences and went straight to monologues.

4 hour long monologues.

It's still mostly in English, but she does speak more and more French. The wonder is now, should Fredo insist on her speaking in French to him?

As for us, and what prompted this post - there's a blogger Fned doing a 'group' blog post about bilingual families. Given Frederic and I met in the US (at a German Biergarten) and since my language skills are fuddled at best (I was saying "Sawat di Ka" and "Khap khun ka" at Mexican restaurants in San Antonio... (Thai for hello and thank you) and throwing in some odd britishisms and spanish words, we've always spoken in English to each other.

My French? What French? I've tried, but my brain is full of Spanish and occasional Thai - at least that's my excuse. I keep saying once we move I'll immerse myself in it then I'll learn. However, I have learned quite a lot since Angelina was born, since he speaks to her only in French. Of course, the words I learn are not exactly for intellectual conversation: "Arrêt!" "Ça suffi! (don't know the ending for suffi-) ... and anyway, you get the idea. We try to watch cartoons/kids films in French to give us both more exposure, which seems to be working. I can sing "J'suis la carte" and "We did it!" (tho I can't spell the latter - "Çe ganard?")...Fans of Dora will understand.

Of course, if we move to Germany next year as hoped, that will throw a whole new kink into things. Great for Angelina, who will learn German in school/playground and continue English with Maman and French with Papa. More work for me though! At least I've studied the basics of German before and can read it a bit, so with effort should be able to learn, but that still means I haven't learned French.....

I've just been reading other blogs of couples who started in one language and eventually progressed to another. It's hard for me to imagine ever being fluent enough in any language to speak it as my primary language. Then I see Frederic - he claims he doesn't speak German, but having gone to university in Bern, she speaks it just fine. And I remember his English when I first met him - excellent, but a little off (and very cute) and now he's basically fluent (still with the cute accent). And though my Thai was hardly fluent or even close to it, there were times I could rattle off a price negotiation at the market, so I guess it's possible for French too. And maybe German. And Spanish. And Karen.

I would love to be able to sit with people anywhere in the world and converse in their native tongue. Fortunately, I've experienced enough of the former to know you can always find a way to converse, especially if a gin and tonic (or beer, or wine...) is involved.

I wish I was born a polyglot.

Maybe Angelina will become one.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Martina!

In the Spring we happened to be in California for Cousin Camille's birthday. This time our visit coincided with cousin Martina's birthday (10!). Angelina could not have had more fun.

See that move at the end, jumping up and landing on her bum? Well, she thinks she can do that anywhere, including on Nanny's living room FLOOR - i.e., concrete slab. Ouch! She kept doing it, I'd tell her to stop, but she'd do it again. I can't believe her back wasn't hurting. Now at least she does it on the bed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

California Dreaming


More pictures Here

"We did it! We did it! Yes yes we did it!"


"We did it! We did it! Yes yes we did it!"
As Dora the Explorer sings when she and her friends help save the world with her spirit of friendship, cooperation, perseverance, hope, and believing they can. Angelina and I dance around singing this refrain with Dora.

Yes We Can. Yes We Did.

Yes We Will. For now, we start.

I want Angelina to grow up in a world of hope. A world of promise. Believing that any thing is possible, and when things are wrong, she can work to change them to make them better for all people.

I've voted in 6 presidential elections now. I was supposed to outgrow my youthful idealism by the time I left college. Certainly I was supposed to leave it behind when I left my 20s. No way was I supposed to be carrying it with me as I approach my 40s.

It's not going anywhere. It was validated last night.

And my hope is that Angelina can carry that positive outlook with her as well. I hope she has a reason to.

I've never been a hugely patriotic sort. As I've wandered the world I've tried not to announce my nationality, though I have tried to represent my country well, quietly, my accent giving me away. But this morning, I am Proud to be an American.

Now it's time to go Save the World with Dora. Thank you America, for making us believe.

(and Thank you to Ohio, land of my forefathers)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sandy Eggo

Here we are in lovely San Diego. Weather couldn't be more perfect, nor apparently can Angelina. At least when she's with Nanny. The Dr. Jekel and Ms. Hyde *I* have the pleasure of knowing doesn't exist with Nanny. She's a perfect Angel Nanny says. Couldn't be more lovely. Eats all her food,puts on her sweater, HOLDS NANNY's HAND AS SHE WALKS ACROSS THE STREET!!! you get the idea. Mom almost didn't believe my stories til I returned from my meeting. ooops. Apparently my presence brings out Ms Hyde. When I appear, the tantrums start, the screaming, the grouchiness. I disappear, and she's all Miss Angelic Angelina.

Nanny did discover the pleasures of sand, however. Angelina and sand. Well, let's just say she's never seen sand she didn't want to cover herself in. Especially when combined with water. And there's the slide. How many times can one child go down a slide?! Apparently, the answer is infinite. And then, we have the Merry-go-round. Today Nanny took her to Seaport Village. First, my warnings to beware stores with nick-nacks as she'll take everything off the shelves which of course she NEVER did with Nanny, then Nanny spotted the Merry-go-Round. HAHAHA! Maman had the last laugh. I had called her earlier and all was well. I called her later, after the Merry-go-Round, and Round, and round, and ROUND. Mom answered saying "Get this child to STOP!" Four times on the Merry-go-round. I was impressed she managed to stop her at 4. Of course, Nanny almost puking must have done it....

(pictures to come)

Cousins! Nanny! Opa! Oh My!

Angelina is in HEAVEN! She is having so much fun.

I had to go to San Diego to present a paper at a conference, so took advantage of the time and location and brought Angelina along to visit her cousins. Oh my what fun she is having! Started with a horrendous flight (4 hour delay in Dallas, which meant a boarding time of MIDNIGHT), Angelina acted like it was just another party, as chipper and happy as can be. So really, it was only horrendous for Maman who just wanted to sleep. The other passengers were saying "If she can be so happy, I have no reason to complain!"

Then we spent Saturday with Cousins and More cousins! Well, first, it was get to know "Opa." She was tired when he picked us up and it took awhile for her to warm up to him, but after he'd dropped us off at 1:30 am local time and we finally were going to bed, she saw the door and said "Bye Opa! Have a good day!" And for the next 36 hours, whenever she'd see the door she'd say "Opa?" and look for him.

When we woke up Saturday morning far too early, she heard noises outside the room and said "I'm coming Papa!" I explained it wasn't Papa, he was home in Texas. So she said "I'm coming Opa!" I said no, it was Nanny! "I'm coming Nanny!"

On to the cousins. We met Camille, Kyle, Hannah, Martina, and Matthew at the park, and her entourage began. Let's just say there were arguments over who got to be with Angelina. Everywhere she walked, her cousins followed. She's going to be a little too used to this Princess thing. She charmed them all. Matthew had gotten some balloons for the girls (well, he took them from a birthday party which had already left). Angelina of course let go of her's. Her response? "Bye bye balloon!" as she waved it up into the sky.

She had a blast. Could not have been happier. There are of course her aunts and uncles, who also dote on her, but they just don't seem to have the same special something the cousins have.

But there are the bubbles. Aunt Loretta and Uncle Bruce had the jacuzzi on saturday night, tempting little Angelina (whose Maman did NOT want to go in). When we left, she said "Bye Bye Bubbles." and All. The. Way. Home. "Bye Bye Bubbles." Bubbles. Bye Bye. Bubbles. Bubbles. More Bubbles. I think she just likes to say "bubbles."

*pictures will have to wait til I return
** Her "Daddy" thing is getting funny. She was calling every man in the airport "Daddy!" The looks on their faces when they heard her were priceless.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Angelina Ballerina?

No, It's Angelina Astronaut!
She's getting ready to be just like Papa!




"Houston, We have a problem. Maman and Papa want me to go to bed!"





















As luck would have it, I happened into a Museum in Austin this weekend and saw this. Almost didn't get it but my colleague convinced me. Turns out it was a good choice. She loved it and wouldn't take it off. She put it on Sunday morning, and as that was the day we were headed to the IBEX launch party, it couldn't have been more appropriate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Onion

This is Angelina's site and I promise not to get political, despite the current election, but oh my Lord I can not stop laughing. I love The Onion (for those who don't know it, it's a satirical newspaper - equal opportunity satire). To see why I'm laughing, read here.

No matter which way your politics go, you have to admit it's funny. And in my case, oh so true :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Daddy!"


Just for the record, Fredo is called "Papa," not "Daddy," so there's no confusion. "Daddy" is Rick's name. Rick, our next door neighbor, aka Wiley and Felice's Daddy. I guess she figures his name is Daddy since that's what they call him, so Daddy it is. It is too sweet. I think Rick likes it too :)

However, he may not be alone. The other day at Bubblehead, she was happily playing with Albert, one of the owners and a new Dad himself. Just as we were leaving she said "Bye Daddy!" I think he almost shed a tear.

As for Mommy - I am both "Mommy" and "Maman." I think I heard her call Angela (Wiley and Felice's Mommy) "Mommy" recently. I don't mind too much, since I figure as far as she's concerned we just have the same name. But she seemed to hesitate just after she said it, like that didn't sound right and I haven't heard her do it again.

Well, we do believe It Takes a Village. Too bad I can't share Mommy duties when she's screaming at 2am....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

No More Dresses for Awhile....

Today Angelina was in one of her many cute dresses. When I picked her up from daycare she was in pants and a top. Usually that means she's had a blow-out poop.

Not today. The babysitter said she had to change her because she wouldn't leave her dress down. She kept lifting it up and twirling around, and when she sat, she'd pull it all the way up.

Not unusual behaviour in a 2 yr old, but she said her refusal to stop along with the other kids all making a fuss, and well, she'd rather Angelina didn't wear dresses for awhile.....

Why am I not surprised? She can't leave her clothes on as it is.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"There Are No Strangers, Only New Friends"


I am convinced that is Angelina's motto. She takes her "Social Butterfly" tendency to a new art level. This kid has no hesitation whatsoever to walk up to new people - kids or adults, take their hand, show them around, and within 2 minutes make them laugh and smile. They're usually so enamored of her they can't leave.

A couple of weeks ago we went to an outdoor diner place. As we sat with the grownups, she saw some kids playing. Boys, about 8-10 yrs old. She walked up, "caught" the nerf football they were throwing and threw it back. Now, I'd have expected boys that age to get annoyed by this little squirt interrupting their game. Nope! They included her right in. Then another kid joined, and another. Credit to the boys for being so wonderful and sweet. And when the boys went off to eat, she just grabbed the nearest adult and started playing.

I'm thrilled she's so friendly.

And also a bit terrified.

I have to watch her like a hawk, because she'll go off with anyone, provided she thinks it'll be fun. I'm not sure she'd understand the concept of "Stranger Danger." I'm not sure I want to teach her that concept. I love that she sees all people as friends. Somehow I have to find a happy medium - teach her she can't go off with everyone, but she can be nice to everyone.....

She has this amazing ability to be the life of the party, without demanding the center of attention (most of the time). I don't exactly know how she does it. She's just herself. I mean, she seems ok if you're not looking at her, as long as you're having fun. But if you're not, she'll pull you into the fray. Happy, laughing, singing. She doesn't seem to have that "Look at ME!" attitude (well, she does with Maman and Papa, but not in a group). Rather, it's more along the lines of "Come join us, let's have some FUN!"

Where'd she get this? And will she be the same with with a sibling?!

[I usually start off apologizing to the older kids or the adults whose play she interrupts, but 9 times out of 10, they're happy to have her. She doesn't need to be the center of attention, she just wants to be there with them. To be one of them. To be part of the party. Occasionally there's a kid not so interested in playing with her, and that's the hardest. But more for me than for her. She generally just keeps playing and being sweet. I hope she never loses that]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sac à dos, Sac à dos

I think maybe she's channeling Star Trek with the head gear....

I was trying to find something to hold Angelina's very fine hair back. Nothing worked, but she found this head band and refused to take it off. As you can see, she has an interesting way of wearing it.





Her other new favourite - "Sac à dos, Sac à dos" That's what Dora sings in French...something about her backpack. Since we're going on a trip soon, I decided to get Angelina her own backpack. Alas, we tried this on, it was too big. Fat chance getting it off her (you should have seen me running around the store chasing her. Dang she's fast!). So I figured she'll have to live with it too big. She walks around with it all day saying "Backpack!"

Oh yeah, I got sick of Caillou (PBS show) - she has a thing for 5 yr old boys...so I got a Dora DVD. Now it's all about "Dora! Babouche!" She watches Dora in French.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Slides and Swings

When Papa is away, we will play!
Fredo went to Germany again, so Angelina and I went to HemisFair Park to play in their wonderful playground. As you can see, she had so much fun.



Little Miss Social Butterfly found friends too. A little girl, not much younger than her wanted to go on the slide. So Angelina said "COme here Baby." Grabbed her hand and showed her how. The mom and grandparents were with her, and it wasn't long before they were ready to take Angelina home with them, convinced she was the sweetest child on earth....

We think she's going to be a gymnast.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Sign of Brilliance or Just Obstinance?

In an effort to make me feel better (or maybe everyone really believes this), Angelina is brilliant. BRILLIANT! A regular Einstein.

That's the way to explain her, um, strong character.

Of course I convince myself of that. But why is it that strong character only comes through with Papa and Maman? Not with Nana (the babysitter)? And well, she's kind of, sort of,maybe a little bit, just like me at that age....and I can't claim to be brilliant.

She is an angel. AN ANGEL! at daycare. Her babysitter has only had to scold her 2x in the almost 1.5 years she's been there. TWO TIMES! With us? it's "Angelina STOP." STOP!" I SAID STOP RIGHT NOW!" "arrêt!" "ARRêT!" "ARRêT!"

And does she stop what she's doing? Hah! She turns to look at us with this devilish smile and continues on. I'm torn between laughing and crying. Except when it's dangerous.

In parking lots she KNOWS she has to hold my hand. What does she do? She darts away faster than I can respond. It's a slow area, no cars. But of course she takes off when a car is approaching, and she's beside a parked large truck, so the little car moving can't see her. I freeze. If I chase her, she runs faster, into the path of the oncoming car. So we have a 1 minute staring match, my only means to keep her still while the car passes. How many more grey hairs that day?!

I'm beginning to think those kid leashes, er, child safety harness aren't such a bad idea afterall.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

End of an Era

No more of the Good Stuff.

That's right. Angelina FINALLY weaned off the breastmilk.

I've hesistated to say it for fear of jinxing myself. She's gone a few days without it before, but always came back. Now it's been about 3 weeks or more since she's last nursed and she hasn't asked for it (altho she still likes to say "Boobies!")

That means we made it to the WHO recommended at least 2 years. Not that the World Health Organization is WHY I continued to nurse for so long. It was just a good marker. My plans to nurse where 'for as long as we BOTH wanted to." I wasn't going to be too bothered if she quit early, and I wasn't going to stretch it out too long if it was becoming a hardship for me.

I stopped pumping at 13 months (which WAS a hardship. Man, I was glad to put that pump away!) But nursing was easy still. And when she had croup at ~17 months, I was sooooo glad I was still nursing as she wouldn't eat anything for a week. And at least as long as she nursed, I knew she could breathe.

Until about 2 years I was ok with it, especially as by then she was only really nursing just before bed. But it started to get old. I was getting tired of it, and she was gnawing more than sucking. I stuck it out a bit longer, trying the "don't offer, don't refuse" method of weaning. Nights when we were out late she'd totally forget, but if we were home, it was first on her mind. The first nights I tried putting her to bed without nursing were AWFUL. She'd scream and point at our nursing chair and say "Nurse! Mommy! Nurse!" I gave in and decided it wasn't worth weaning. So I tried different tactics: I moved the nursing chair out of the room so it wouldn't remind her. I tried a different bed time routine. But my heart broke when she'd beg "Nurse Mommy!" and I figured it didn't bother me that much, so I'd nurse her a bit. We started counting to 20. I told her she had until "20" to finish, and she always did, but I couldn't get away with "Zero".

Well, then I had a miscarriage (yes, again - officially I've been pregnant four times, which is weird). Anyway, I was in such physical pain for a week or so that I just couldn't handle nursing and had to say no. Frederic did his best to distract her, and fortunately that was the beginning of the end. I'm not sure when it finally ended, I just realized the other day it's been a few weeks without her asking.


No complaints from me. Some women get rather emotional when their kid gives it up. But me, I'm ok with it. I don't regret nursing so long, (which isn't that long when you consider other primates), nor do I regret stopping when we did.

From the kid whom we weren't sure would ever nurse, to the toddler who was so engrossed,the way to get her out of the tub (which she refused to do), was to lift my top.

She was worse than a 14 year old boy for awhile.

Now, she seems to have forgotten what they're for. And that's ok.


Of course, we'll be taking a flight in a few weeks and I wonder if I'll regret weaning, since that was always the way to keep her calm and quiet on the plane!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"All done!"


I walked back into the kitchen to a shout of "All done Mommy!"

I look.

Half a box of cereal on the table, Angelina proudly holding up the empty box. At least it's not a bucket of tar....that time will come no doubt.

"Are you doing something you shouldn't be doing?"


"Yes."

At least she's honest. video

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's weird how things hit you

I've been living and breathing Gustav then Ike lately, as part of my job with the state government. For the most part, it's interesting. Not quite exciting anymore - too many times doing this now to be exciting - but it's still all fascinating to see this huge response in action.

Ike has been tricky, he keeps changing course and we keep chasing him, trying to evacuate people out of harms way. Normally you have a few days, but those we evacuated a day ago are now headed back while we evacuate another area. San Antonio looks to be out of harm's way now, but the same region that got evacuated for Gustav is now facing down Ike with less than 24 hours warning.

But what got to me, what really hit me, was the evacuation of the NICU in Galveston to SA. I wasn't involved directly in that evacuation, and had a lot of other issues to attend to, I just heard it going on here and there, but it brought me back to 2 years ago. Watching Angelina in NICU, staying by her side as she fought for her life, I just can't even imagine how it'd be if we'd had to evacuate, if she had to go on an ambulance or a plane to be transported far away. It's for their safety, and it's a good thing, I just can't imagine how hard it must be for those parents right now.

On the positive side, everyone in this state is working very very hard to make sure no lives are lost to Ike, well, at least not here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ike vs. Angelina - which Hurricane would win?



That dot at 2pm Sat is San Antonio. Ike is on his way. I've been busy working in the emergency operations center dealing with evacuations from the coast - and a constant shift in Ike's path, so we don't know where to evacuate. Of course the plan to evacuate the coast to San Antonio is interesting, given Ike's current path....

Time to get all that stuff out in the yard put away!

But sometimes Hurricanes are good luck, at least for us. The last time we had two hurricanes in a row (Katrina then Rita), Angelina was um, "created" ;). Perhaps that explains why she's her own little Category 4 Hurricane.

On a more serious note, Haiti and Cuba need a break. Fay, Hanna, Gustav, now Ike. I'm trying to figure out the best way to help, since we can't go there physically and do much. So many aid organizations, just need to find the right one.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"No Singing, No Dancing, No Laughing, Nor Cries

The house becomes quiet when Angelina, er, Cherise shuts her eyes...."


Those of you who know my oldest brother Tim's Night Before Christmas at the Rohr's poem, know this phrase well. I will admit it was pretty accurate. It appears the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Angelina LOVES to dance. I mean LOVES it. Music is on (or even if it's not) and she's boogie-ing. Her dance still used to be shaking her head (kind of like Mommy's 80s headbanger dancing?). Now it consists of twirling in circles.



And there's the Singing. And the Laughing.
Oh, and don't forget the Crying*....Really. She does that too.


She LOOKS like all her genes came from her Papa, but when you see her in action, you know she has SOME of my genes.

Unfortunately for me.

Karma, ya know.....


But she's not a carbon copy, she's her own unique person.


*there's a picture of me about Angelina's age with my brother Chris (6 years older) in our old kitchen on Big Dalton. I am screaming my head off and he's just staring at me. I am sure he's responsible for making me cry. Everytime Angelina gets into her full throttle cry I think of that picture, because though she looks like Fredo 99% of the time, that look when she's screaming is all me.

Lovely.

I am learning to be proud that she has inherited her 'spiritedness' from me.

 
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