Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We need eachother.

Husband: "...but where would you wear them?"

Me: "I'd be hard pressed to not wear them everyday..."

Shoes here.

*Nope, not compensated for this endorsement.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

And, the first tooth has left the first child's mouth.

That's my Pickle with her baby teeth intact.

Guess what?

The Tooth Fairy visited our house this weekend.
It was her first time at our casa.
Vivi was terribly concerned about how the Tooth Fairy was going to get into our house since we don't have a chimney, but older and wiser Lila reminded her that she is a FAIRY and that she has WINGS therefore she doesn't require a chimney.

The day before the tooth fell out.

It happened Saturday morning.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This whole Bill Cosby thing.

This Bill Cosby thing bothers me.

I'll be honest, at first it bothered me because well, he's Bill Cosby. He's everyone's Dad.

We grew up with Sondra, Denise, Vanessa, Theo and Rudy. I remember laughing at Cliff Huxtable as he tried to move his knee when Rudy's friend Peter was sitting on it. I remember Picture Page and I coveted that pen. I loved A Different World. And I rather enjoyed pudding pops.

Then as I became older, I respected Bill Cosby even more. He wore the sweaters well. He spoke of higher empowerment, of elevation, of striving for more. His affiliations with institutions of higher education impressed me. And of course, the loss of his only son... well, it made him even more human.

And now this.

Pick your news source. This story is everywhere.


My natural inclination is to say, "Oh man, I hope that's not true."

Bill Cosby's role within my generation has been that of a trusted, kind man. He's kind of like the male version of Oprah.

And then you read of the lawsuit that was settled back in 2006 wherein the plaintiff had the support of 13 others who accused Cosby of ultimately the same thing: drugging them and then raping them.

And then you wrinkle your nose a bit and say, "Thirteen women? Um... something isn't ok with this... And he 'settled'? He didn't just deny it becuase he was innocent? Do innocent people settle?"

At present I believe seven women have come forward telling frighteningly similar stories that are more or less the same: young girl looking for something (mentorship, attention, a break into acting, a job opportunity) meets distinguished, famous, loved-by-America actor who proceeds to give them pills which cause them to black out which diminishes their consciousness then results in them waking up to find their underpants off of their person, their bodies raped and a naked famous man nearby.



Did he do it?
Probably. I'd be surprised if he didn't at this point. I hope he didn't. But...

This is where I am with the whole thing right now:

1.) Seemingly nice people do really bad things. Why? Because they do. Seemingly nice people look for a particular personality who has a need and they exploit it. And seemingly nice people seem nice because they do lots of other things sometimes, just to cover up for the not-so-great stuff. Icky people don't drive around in Molester Vans. They coach college football. They work with children. They write and produce hit 80's sitcoms...

2.) Rules are usually pliable for those who are in power. Megachurch pastors, presidents of the United States, even lovable TV Dads can get away with heinous crimes. And, it appears to be easier to get away with something when the public isn't willing to believe that someone would do that. "No, not him. He pedals pudding pops. He champions literacy and education for all! He's a lovable TV Dad. He couldn't have...".

3.) It's important to have a voice. I commend and applaud any woman, man or child who has the courage to stand up to a brick wall of skepticism and make such an intimate and scarring event public. Having to re-live and re-tell that story over and over again is beyond my comprehension.

4.) It's important to tell the truth. Whack-jobs make.stuff.up. And it's plausible that some of these women are lying. It's also very possible that Cosby is lying. We'll never know the truth. But the truth usually seems to find it's way out. I hope this is the case with this mess.


This situation makes me want to scoop up my children and never.ever.let.them.out.of.my.sight.

I want to raise a child who is ridiculously unappealing to a predator.

We all do.

I hope this situation is appropriately resolved. I feel for Cosby's wife of many, many years. Whether or not rape occurred, infidelity did... and that ain't easy, either. That poor woman never asked to be part of the spotlight, but now... she is. :(

One could argue that none of this is my business, but I would respond with the lame, "But he's a public figure" excuse. Because he is.

And you're right, what he does in his personal time is his business...

...as long as date rape drugs aren't involved.


AP's interview taped Nov. 6 - link here


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas shopping: Kids and gifts and siblings.

Download these cute gifts tags from creaturecomfortblog
So, we have these two kids. They're about a year and a half apart. And they're the same gender.

ONE kid likes princesses and crafts.

The other kid likes spiderman, cars and baby dolls.

At Christmas time, do you buy your close-in-age-kids (or nieces and nephews) the same gifts or do you try to buy them different gifts?

What happens if one kid wants the other kid's gift?

Tough luck?

Tell me.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

That came out of nowhere: I HAVE WRITTEN 5,000 POSTS!

About an hour ago I wrote a little quip about my kiddos. (See below.)
After I was finished, I clicked publish and I started to write another post. (I write in 3's.)

As I was deciding on my topic, I decided to check just how many posts I've written to date.

Then I saw this:


I knew I was nearing 5,000 a while back... but look! I made it!

And then I got all sentimental.

5,000 posts ago I was sitting in my first home in Toledo, Ohio with my husband of about 3 years. We had an English bulldog (Nattie) who was the love our life. Since then, we've moved to a new country, sold our home, lost our dog (bless her heart) and welcomed another dog (Señorita Fergie Lupita). We've experienced the unexpected loss of Craig's Dad and the unbelievable joy of Lila's birth. We've gone through the first year of parenting, and made it. We understand teething and breastfeeding and now know how to take a car seat both in and out of a car in like 30 seconds. We had another baby. Adopted another dog. I lost my Mom. We went through a hurricane and we moved again.



I am humbled by this milestone and I am very, very grateful for this space where I can share who I am.

For a while there, I kept thinking - I need to sell ad space, I need to review more products... I need to do more to make.this.my.full.time.job. And each time an offer comes my way, it never feels right.

This is my space.
This is my heart.

This space is me. I need to protect it. It needs to continue to be mine.


When I first started writing this blog in May of 2006 I had no idea that I'd be writing my story to my own, "Two Pretzels."

Ah, it's funny how sometimes everything just falls into place...


Aside from my phenomenal cooking (see the post below), I hope this ends up being a gift my babies enjoy. I know that I've more than loved writing it.

Thank you to all of you, who have read it and supported me.

Here's to 5,000 more posts.


A glimpse in.

Sometimes I berate myself for not having published a post on the blog for a week.

Then I realize that I'm living with two ridiculously demanding, emotionally unstable and frightfully needy people:

My children.

Yeah. They're not pleased with me, either.

In the past few weeks we have moved from our home of about 7 years to a new home - a home that we were supposed to move into days after a category 4 hurricane hit our community. We have since unpacked copious boxes of far too much stuff, entirely too many rubbermaid containers and my personal favorite and yours: boundless un-labeled garbage bags full of clothes and other treasures. All the while working full-time.

AND, all the while constantly having constantly hungry children constantly at our heels. (Yes, I used "constantly" thrice times. I can. My blog.)

7:00 a.m: "I'm hungry."

9:00 a.m.: "I"m hungry."

9:30 a.m.: "I'm hungry."

10:15 a.m.: "I'm hungry."

You get the gist.

They're always hungry. My usual response, "No you're not. You're bored."

That response has overtaken my diversion technique. I no longer try to find something else for them to do. "Hey, let's do this puzzle!" I simply tell them, "It's not possible. You ate 17 minutes ago. You cannot possibly need 'cereal and yogurt' right now. Reason points to the fact that you simply can't be hungry.'"

So there.

And does my reasoning work?


It just brings about whining.


To which I try to be for real and I bring out the 1-2-3 Magic child-rearing thing. "Lila, that's 1." (That seems to always work for her. She's done. She doesn't want a time out whereby she'll be relegated to some space where I am not and therefore deaf to her demand for more food. Because she's "still hungry.")

Then there's Vivi and the whining.

I could be like, "Vivienne, that's 3 (which is supposed to be immediate removal of activity and immediate time out or time out space... or something) and she's like, "So what? TIME OUTS DON'T BOTHER ME.  DID YOU HEAR ME? I said I am HUNGRYYYYYYYYYYYY."

She thinks I am the one who has a listening problem.


So tonight I made dinner.

Post-hurricane we lost everything in our fridge, then we took an evacuation vacation to Ohio for a month, then we got back and moved... so I haven't quite built up the reserve pantry. That said, it's blackbeans, red peppers, corn (onion... shhhh... don't tell the ladies) quesadillas for dinner.

It's not that bad. I mean, I added CHEESE!

While I'm making dinner, Lila walks into the kitchen and sees the tortillas on the counter and proceeds to immediately pick up the top two and RUBS THEM ON HER FACE.


I was dumbstruck.

Good mom's response: "I'm sure you're curious as to how the tortillas smell and feel, but next time let's make a different decision and not put them on your face."

My response: "What are you doing? Am I seeing what I'm seeing? Are there tortillas on your face or have I lost it? Lila, it's not ok to put your germs all over the tortillas that other people eat."

She laughs. "Oh. Ok." (She said that with surprise in her voice.)

So I plate the food for the kids.

The kids who are always hungry.

Vivi takes one bite and her entire body flinches and convulses.



"Vivi, it's corn. You'll make it."

Full on screaming, "NO, it's TERRIBLE. I TOLD YOU I NEED YOGURT AND CEREAL!!!"


Why do I even try*?

So, as I said earlier, pardon my lack of blogging, I'm living with two demanding, crazy, emotionally unstable and needy people.


[Of course I didn't give her yogurt and cereal. It's us against them. It's cereal and yogurt today and what? Condoms and an American Express tomorrow? I think not. She ate the quesadillas... and picked out the corn.]

I'm having a glass of wine.


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Breaking Through. Bilingual kids are cool.

When I found out that I was pregnant in 2008 I was overwhelmed with excitement.

Probably moments later, the fear and anxiety set in.

There I was: an American... preparing to give birth in a country that was not my own. An American whose Español was, up until that point, largely made up of genuine, yet trivial salutations. "Hola, Como estas? Gracias. Hasta luego."

Tee hee.

So I had the baby. She was fine.

The pediatrician thing worked out.
The vaccine thing worked out.
The breastfeeding thing worked out.
The speaking-in-Spanish thing worked out.
The solid food thing, the crawling, the walking, the going to school thing... all of that worked out.

As it always does.

And so this is how I work: obviously when when a worry or concern is squashed, I don't want my brain to be bored... so, I think of a new potentially life-threatening or life-altering or life-affecting concern to replace said squashed concern.

For me, it was Lila's speech. Her vocabulary. Her talking.

Lila started school, as they do down here, when she was 26 months old.

I still had no idea what she was saying when she started school.

Gibberish. Constant gibberish. Sounds. It wasn't spanish. It wasn't English. It was just... perplexing.

(Link here if you can't see the youtube video.)

It kept me up at night.

"When will she speak?"


I AM A TALKER. My desk has been moved in every elementary school classroom because I talked too much. I have talked to this child and read to this child religiously since she was in utero. I want her to love communicating, to love words, to love reading... but at this point, I think she's speaking Swahili.


I remember going back to to the States and seeing our friends' children who were months younger than Lila speaking far more clearly than she was. It made me nervous. Until we met with our Ohio pediatrician. He was Syrian. His children were bilingual. He told us: STOP WORRYING. It's going to take TIME.

Time went on... and we still had no idea what Lila was saying. It was incredible: she'd repeat the same sounds with the same intonations over and over again. It was like she knew what she was saying; we were the idiots.

Then one day, a switch flipped, and she spoke English and Spanish.

Like boom: ENGLISH and SPANISH.

Ah, ok...

So what my friends and family (and doctors) had been telling me about raising bilingual children was true. I had been told: she's listening, she's hearing language and will soon learn how to include language in her life. It will happen when she's ready; on her terms. Until then, her brain is working over-time to process everything.

It worked like that: BOOM - now we understand her. Now she's talking all the time. She's "reading" her books in a corner in her room. She WON'T SHUT.UP.

And that's how it's been and that's how it remains. Lila. Always.Talking. Always. Right now. All of the time. Talking, more taking, and still talking.

My first born is 5 years and 3 months old and she is bilingual.

My newest concern and stress has been this: How will this child of mine learn to love reading, just like I do. How will she learn how to spell correctly? Learn proper grammar? HOW?

HOW will she learn how to do these things when she's first learning to read in Spanish?
HOW will she learn how to read in ENGLISH when she's first learning the sounds of the phonetic Spanish alphabet?


[These are the concerns of someone who needed to remember that there is a WORLD outside of the United States and that other countries do know what they're doing, too. That's another blog post, though...]

So anyway, I like plans. I like to know what to expect.

Receiving a syllabus on the first day of classes during college made.my.life. Thank you for telling me what is going to happen next. I can now be prepared.

Let's just say for the past 16 or so months I've been flash-carding her, teaching her English Dolch sight words, teaching her English letters, doing the Victory Drill book with her, introducing her to Leap and the crew, etc. Meanwhile, she has been bringing home her Spanish reading book daily from school. I've seen the confusion. I've heard the frustration.

When you look at a letter and have to have your "Spanish Hat" on versus your "English Hat" -- how can you not be confused?

For example "i" in Spanish sounds like "ee", while "i" in English has both a long and short sound.

It's too much for adults, let alone for five-year-olds.

In Spanish, all of the words are phonetic. In English, they are what they are. Because they just are. Sigh.


So then there was today...

TODAY, was a breakthrough.

Very, very casually she grabbed some BOB reading books (we have a few collections of these and I highly recommend them.) and she started reading to me. She did great. We read a few, then went on with our day.

Then tonight, she found some more reading books that I just added to her bookshelf (they'd been around for a while, but she hasn't been there yet) and she proceeded to read 3 kindergarten-level books. SURE, she reads with an accent. SURE, she reads sounding many words out with Spanish pronunciation, but she quickly translates it to English.

I can see the wheels turning.

She read 3 of the little 10-page books and she was so proud.

(I could see her puff up.)

"Mommy, I'm doing it. I'm really reading."

Me: Do you want to keep going?

Lila: Yes. I do. I have to keep reading so that I can get better and better. I'm reading! Can you hear me?


So, I grabbed the 'ole "Go Dog, Go!" book that I had bought this summer.


You guys, my little spanish-accented sweetheart got to page 25 or so before we stopped for the night.

(Vivi was blown away. "Lila. YOU CAN READ.")

She was reading the words.
Using the illustrations as hints.
THINKING about every page - offering her thoughts on the book; what was silly, what was not.




"Will she love words?"

"Will she love books?"

"Will she love to read?"

Obviously the jury is still out... but what happened today was HEARTWARMING for me. All of our efforts... all of my worries...

"Let's just keep reading, Mommy... I want to see what happens..."


Me too, baby girl. Me too.


[NOTE: must think of something new to worry about.]


I love being her Mom.


Lila reading here.

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