Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009

As seen in Shona Cole's blog, I though the idea of a Cinquain constructed to summarize the year that is about to end was an excellent idea and an exercise in minimalistic reduction of thoughts and feelings. A challenging thing it was to pin-point the major theme of the year and to capture it in a few chosen words which should embody one's complex feelings.

As copied from her blog:
"a Cinquain is constructed in the following way:
· The first line is one word (a noun/the topic)
· The second line is two descriptive words (2 adjectives that describe the first word)
· The third line is three action words (3 -ly adverbs or –ing verbs)
· The fourth line contains four words that express a feeling or make a statement (a 4 word phrase)
· The last line is one word (a synonym or adjective that refers to the first word)"

So here is mine:

Planned thought-through
Packing traveling readjusting
Pros and Cons abound

May 2010 bring you goodness, greatness and love.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More than skin deep

One thing I learned this Summer, was to carry a small boo-boo kit on my backpack wherever we went. Bare knees and running down-hill are an exhilarating and dangerous mix; Several times Amalia stumbled or otherwise slipped and landed on her hands and knees. It was even painful for me, and all I did was watch it happen. The first time, was also one of the worst, as she was running on the sidewalk, and the skinned knees bled profusely (profusely at least in my lay view... ), blood slowly dripping toward her ankles, as tears likewise streamed down her cheeks. It also coincided with the first dinner out as a family after the move cross-country. We had at last settled in the apartment and we were walking down the street, only a few blocks to a burger place. So, after improvising with tissue and small band aids holding it place, I learned my lesson, and kitted-up our own Summer survival pouch, with small and large band-aids, neosporin and some antiseptic wipes. (I found that to put tissue on a wound is a very bad idea... it sticks and it is not pleasant to remove it later!)

That kit got used in several occasions through the Summer and early Fall, and then slowly, as pants started to be worn more often, and maybe Amalia started to run in a more coordinated manner, it got used less and less often and is has now sat unused in my backpack for a while. Kids don't enjoy getting hurt, due to the physical pain, of course, but also due to the dent to the ego a fall brings about, and the general surprise of it all. I found that a slick of antibiotic ointment resolved more than pain, it soothed all those emotions a three-year old goes through after accidentally getting hurt. The rite of sitting her down and taking care of her boo-boos was reassuring to her, and made me feel extremely competent at parenting, doing my job of making my kid feel new again in an instant.

These days Amalia takes it personally when she falls or runs into something in the playground, and puts up a brave face even when it hurt her. The other day she walked onto a metal pipe in the playground, and bumped her head. I could see she was not only startled but also in pain, as she automatically said "I'm OK" in a loud voice and kept her lips pursed, repeating it over and over until she burst into tears. I tried to reassure her, telling her it is OK to have an accident, but could see she was feeling humiliated by the event; I have a proud little girl, sometimes her behavior surprises me.

I finally managed to download all the photos that were stored in my cell-phone, and seeing some of these made me recollect these events. Here are a selection of the pictures.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Girl Power

For the last couple of months Amalia has taken to Pixar movies. Before then, she would watch short shows, like Backyardigans or Peep, but not full movies. Well, now she is rather obssessed with "Cars" and "Wall-E" in particular. So, yesterday I showed her the trailer for "Monsters, Inc" to see if she was ready for it. I thought the issue of monsters was still a bit too much for her, even in a funny context where the monsters are likable and not scary at all for the most part. Well, I was right; after watching the trailer a couple of times she told me "I almost like it, I'll like it after I'm a boy". So either she thinks that growing up encompasses such changes as sex reversal, like in some fish, or, most likely, she already thinks at this age that somehow boys are tougher than girls, and like scary things.
Actually I know for sure she does think boys enjoy scarier things, and it is very interesting to see her come up with gender-specific generalizations. Even though I believe she has not been exposed to many stereotypical roles and situations, from an early age boys and girls are not only aware that they are different but behave differently. However, I was still surprised to see this happening, for example at day-care, where the boys although in a minority in her class, were the most rambunctious of the lot. Even when boys were able to wear tu-tus and dress up like princesses or have their nails painted if they wished, they still behaved in a manner that sometimes made me think "Gee...Boys!".
Amalia also often makes a distinction between Daddy's preferences and ours (the girls). She will point out to a spider in a book and say "I don't like spiders mama, and you don't like spiders, but Papa likes spiders!", even though this is not, in reality, accurate.
So for now, we will leave the monsters for Daddy's obvious enjoyment.

Now that Amalia has grown up (all is relative), we have started to be able to enjoy games as a family, and she is surprisingly good at playing Jenga! The little fingers must help somehow...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Saying the mornings have been crisp is an understatement. We have had a string of beautiful sunny days, the temperature not raising above freezing, allowing us to have a wonderful time playing outside. The light is amazing, the colors vivid, as they can only be in Winter. I don't mind the cold, we can bundle up, but the opportunity to be out and about is priceless. From my desk I see the snow-covered Olympic mountains, and so, life is sweet.

I am watching the behavior of a three-year old girl evolving on a daily basis, and one thing that I learned is that she is indeed a small but powerful sponge, absorbing not only the good but also the bad examples she witness. A few days ago Amalia insisted on putting on make-up, ending up with one purple eye and a gray glittering cheek. I had a hard time convincing her to clean her face at the end, and as I was wiping her with a damp cloth, she covered her eyes with her hands and said: "not my make up". After all Mama does not wipe her face when she is done so why should she? At the end all was well, the make-up was removed, and we left the house with a fresh faced little girl, just the faintest traces of shimmer sparkling in the afternoon sun. There is probably nothing that can so strongly prompt introspection as watching yourself reflected on your offspring.

I noticed a streak of Picasso on the snowman Amalia brought home from preschool today; We always hope for the best in our kids, so it is not that she cannot correctly represent a snowman, but that she chose to take artistic license while doing it.

Christmas napkins were made yesterday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


There is a particularly large squirrel that lives around the playground, no doubt fattened up on fallen cheerios and goldfish crumbs. It has lost all fear of humans, and it approaches us if it sees we are eating a snack. Today it was no exception, and I had to actually scare it off as I was afraid it would nibble on our fingers if we were to take our eyes off it. I have never fed it, but nonetheless the little creature was hopeful that it would get something. After it finally left, Amalia commented on how big its belly was: "That's a fat squirrel mama, just like you!"

Yesterday I marveled again on how much she has come along in the last couple of months. We attended a pot-luck lunch at daddy's work, and Amalia was the only kid there. After a few minutes of awkwardness, Amalia started feeling at ease, and by the end, while I was sitting down eating some food, she was standing among a small group, with a paper cup in hand, looking up and chatting away. My heart really warmed up at the sight, she appeared so grown up all of a sudden, and I could almost envision the future. I just hope she was not letting people know they looked like squirrels.

It has been four months since I have been officially not working, and I am really sitting on the fence about returning to a full-time job soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby Amalia grows up and is now preschooler Amalia

Amalia had a great day at preschool today. As it was very sunny at pick up time, we went to the playground, where she sought out a couple of other kids and played very well, at one point putting her arm around the shoulders of a little girl and asking her if she would like to go to the baby-swings. She has blossomed a great deal socially in the last couple of months, and it is heart-warming to see it. She will now approach another kid her age in the library or playground on her own initiative and introduce herself. I am proud, and she is happy.
A couple of days ago, unprompted she told me: "When I am angry I don't love you too much, but when I am happy like this I love you." It made me smile, and I am happy that not only is she articulate now, but is aware of her feelings and how powerful they can be.