Alarming Irony

January 30, 2009

Last night was another bad night. At about 1am I was awoken from a disturbing dream about rotting teeth (apparently I am not alone in this) by an alarm. Not the alarm clock, but a loud buzzer which seemed to be coming from the walls of the house. I was so disoriented that at first I thought I was still dreaming until the waves of panic and adrenaline quickly made me bolt up with fear. Once that happened, I was overwhelmed by my racing heart and all sorts of crazy thoughts of horrible intruders. I couldn't find the phone and once I did none of the lights were illuminated and I was too scared to turn on any lights. The alarm stopped after just a few sharp buzzes and things were quiet again. I checked the control panel on the house alarm and everything seemed to be fine. No signs of break in, all doors/window still locked, no trouble light blinking on the panel. But just as I climbed back into bed and started to calm my racing heart, the alarm sounded again and I dialed the alarm company number. That poor woman on the other end. She was so calm and I could barely get a word out of my mouth. Eventually she calmed me down, stayed on the line with me as I walked through the house again, and she suggested checking the smoke detector batteries. That seemed to be the issue. The one in the hallway next to the kids' bedroom had a red beeping light. After figuring out the problem, I climbed back into bed but I just couldn't sleep. I pretty much tossed and turned until morning. Waking every half hour or so.

But here's the two children who have not slept for a complete night in their beds since we have returned home; my two children who were sleeping just a couple of feet away from a very loud alarm sound; my two children who have been waking me up every couple of hours each night for various bunny hunts, bathroom trips, and snuggling. Those two children slept through the entire night! in their beds until this morning! clueless about the craziness of the night before! I guess the house was just too quiet for them before? I don't know. But I do know that I am headed to bed right now and I am really, really hoping for a good night's sleep.

Paperbag Valentines

We collected a bunch of random scraps and art supplies (inspired by MayaMade). Cut out paper bag hearts. Everyone decorated their heart with the material of their choosing. I added a thin layer of poly-fil/quilt batting, and stitched them up on the sewing machine. This was our first batch. We'll keep working on them and see how they evolve!

Camille's made with yarn and glue
Noah's made from oil pastel

Mine made from fabric scraps. I initially coated the scraps in glue/water paste. I was trying figure out how to make some type of three dimensional fabric heart with scraps, but ended up just sewing the glue dried scraps onto the paper bag. Gives an interesting "crispy" texture. Still want to figure out how to construct something structural with fabric scraps. Any suggestions? ideas?

For The Birds

January 27, 2009

After seeing the lanterns I hung up around the house in honor of Chinese New Year, Noah asked if we could hang some outside for the birds....brilliant idea! So we made our own lanterns and some bird treats. We started with the standard pine cone/peanut butter/ birdseed. But it was fun to see how the kids extended the idea to twigs and gum balls. Visit The Crafty Crow for more ideas on feeding the birds (I love the heart shaped popcorn). Happy New Year to our feathered and furry friends. I have a feeling the squirrels are going to be very happy!

Good Fortune

January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year! We celebrated the day by making banners for our front door. Using these guidelines we each took a turn writing "Good Fortune". Noah has been really fired up about learning to write in English so this project was especially exciting for him.Over the weekend we had an early Chinese New Year's Dinner (actually it was a feast!) with our Taiwanese friends. It was truly one of the best nights with amazing food, lots of laughter, crazy kids, red envelopes of money ($8 since that is a lucky number), and some wild Wii playing. I hope it is an indicator of what this year will bring for us. The next few weeks are full of holidays that have significance to our family. This time of year always feels like the most important for our little family of four...Chinese New Year, Tu B'Shevat, Valentine's Day (also our family day), Mardi is a big celebration of who we are as a family with our Jewish/Taiwanese/Cajun/American roots. I always have big plans for ways to make each of the holidays special and unique. I never really get it all together and each year I unpack decorations that I meant to hang the previous year or find notes about crafts/recipes to try, etc. But this past weekend with our friends was a good reminder that the real focus should just be on enjoying our time together and realizing how fortunate we are.

Wishing you all the best in the year of the Ox!

Happy Art

January 24, 2009

Hard to stay grumpy long when you watch this video! I saw this a few weeks ago on Sarah's blog but I couldn't get the volume on the computer to work (figured it out a few days ago) and then I saw it again on the good + happy day blog...must be making the rounds. Made me smile and want to grab a paintbrush!

Bunny Hunting

Can microchips be placed in stuffed animals? This is the question that came to me at 3 am this morning as I was wakened once again to search for a lost Mama Bunny. Luckily Mama Bunny has a rattle inside her head so she is easier to locate than Baby Bunny, but still it's not a fun task in the pitch dark with a hysterical three year old, a sleep deprived mama, and grumpy brother who kept voicing my thoughts "let me go back to sleep!". Mama Bunny was located between the bed and the wall, but it took us all awhile to get settled again. I have jokingly wondered about placing microchips in children, but I am seriously considering options for those pesky bunnies....if the chips won't work perhaps glow in the dark tags or attaching them to Mei-Mei with heavy duty velcro? duct tape? A few days ago she called me "Mama Grumpy Pants" and I had to laugh because it's sadly true. All of these nightly searches and bed hopping have left me pretty out of sorts.

Wood Storks

January 23, 2009

It's been wood stork week around here. Last Saturday at the playground near the farmer's market we were amazed to see five wood storks amidst the ducks and gulls eating bread crumbs from some of the kids. They looked so exotic and prehistoric with their leathery heads. So strange to see them surrounded by all of the noise and activity of the playground. And yesterday we had another wood stork encounter. It was a new park to us. Lots of oak trees and a little stream next to a small playground area. We had been the only ones there for about an hour when Noah noticed the wood stork behind us. He was walking along the water hunting for food. Noah quietly crept closer to the water and laid down on his belly to observe the bird. Camille and I hung back observing from a distance. I was really wishing I had my camera because the light was beautiful and it was pretty amazing to see Noah so close to such a large bird. After awhile the bird flew away (huge wing span with bands of black on his wings) and Noah ran back to us. He excitedly reported: "I saw him peeing. He didn't pee in a line. His pee was one little drop then another". And that handy field bag that I so proudly posted about a few days was at home along with my camera....need to keep them in our car or at least by the door. When we got home, Noah made this drawing of the wood stork peeing (how many people can say they have witnessed that?!):

Getting older

During a recent phone conversation with Adam, Noah asked:

"When I am twelve, will you and mom still own me?"

He wanted to know if he would still be living at home with us. In his mind twelve seems very grown up. He told Camille yesterday:

"By the time you are in third grade, I'll probably be married".

Field Bag

January 21, 2009

I have been a long time follower of the Camp Creek Blog. And now Lori has created a wonderful new spot in the blogworld: In Heywood's Meadow. A place for encouraging all natural exploration. She recently asked "What's in your field bag".

This is what we have in our field bag (backpack):

  • local wildlife books (birds, sea creatures, butterflies, plants) I especially like the laminated fold outs because they are so compact, but small books are also good.
  • sketchbook/nature journal
  • magnifying glass
  • vented box for viewing/collecting
  • hats
  • water bottles
  • bug stuff

Things I want to add/find for our field bag:

  • pair of small, good binoculars (any suggestions?)
  • sunscreen
  • compass
  • net and bucket (for our beach field bag)
  • laminated sea shell/creature trifold like our butterfly one

Looking forward to getting some ideas from others' field bags. Want to join in the fun? Make a trip to Heywood's Meadow.


January 20, 2009

I was moved today by so many things. By Noah's drawing of President Obama taking the oath, by Elizabeth Alexander's poem, by the faces and flags on the mall, by Mr. Obama's words, and most of all by this.

An adaptation of Simple Gifts by some of the most amazing musicians of our time. American musicians of different colors playing on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by a million people of various ages, backgrounds,stories all celebrating a historic moment in our history....a proud moment to be American. So much came welling up from inside me when the music started. Simple Gifts was one of my father's favorite songs. It was played as I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to be married under a chuppah surrounded by our family and closest friends. And now it will mark this historical day for me. Truly American music that moved me to sob with tears of joy, sadness, and pride today.

Day 200

January 19, 2009

We are in count down mode around here. In less than 30 days Adam will be home. In 20 days Noah will turn six. In less than a day we will have a new president. Time is a strange thing. There were moments when this deployment felt like it would never end. And of course those other moments when days just blurred into one another with an exhausted frenzy. Big things have happened in this chunk of deployment time. Noah started reading. He proudly told me the other night with some amazement: "I am reading in my mind now" (reading silently to himself). Camille is potty trained and getting more skilled at cutting at her own hair (two more times in the past week...she has some sort of scissor radar. I really have tried to hide all scissors from her). I'd like to say I have learned some snazzy new skills during this deployment, but the things I have learned to do aren't that impressive to most people (figuring out how to attach the external hard drive to the laptop, etc). The biggest thing for me has been acknowledging I really needed help and getting better at asking and accepting help from family, friends, and even total strangers.

Adam on the other hand has learned a snazzy new skill: woodworking and he has been spending long hours in the base wood shop producing some beautiful pieces. He has also been leading a very different lifestyle than us and I am starting to think about his transition home.
The kids and I have pretty much maintained the same daily routine that we all had before the deployment, but Adam has spent the last seven months in a warped summer camp experience. Group living, group meals, group exercise, group recreation. He has had time for soccer,reading, movies, nightly conversations with adults, and a different type of work (emergency room vs. full scope family medicine). My friends who have gone through deployments always comment on the transition period after deployment. I am sure we will do fine but I won't be surprised by moments of tension and re-adjustment. So on this night before the Obama inauguration, I feel hopeful, excited, and anxious to get started with the next chapter. Ready to see this deployment come to an end. Anticipating and preparing for more transition. And finally truly counting down!

From the backyard

January 18, 2009

Put together this little arrangement the night before a freeze warning....broccoli flower, parsley, fern, and pentas. I love being able to use things from our yard to brighten up the house. Fresh herbs are always nice to use. Parsley, dill, and rosemary are my favorites because of their scents, bright colors, and interesting textures in arrangements.

Fresh Reading/ Fresh Eating

January 17, 2009

I just finished re-reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I read it last year along with The Omnivore's Dilemma and I got all fired up about eating locally and seasonally. If you haven't read them, both are great books. Reading Kingsolver's words again re-vived my desire to eat and live well. To make conscious decisions about what we buy, eat, and grow. And it feels right to read it at the start of a new year. This chilly time of year when I am inclined to spend more time in the kitchen (the kids were so excited that we baked our own bread last week). The time of year when I start dreaming about spring planting. So this week my bedside table and the kitchen table have been piled with stacks of cookbooks and gardening books. I love all of the fresh possibilities.

Another thing that has me excited about eating locally/seasonally is The Beaches Local Food Network. I was shocked when we moved here three years ago to discover that there weren't any great farmer's markets. I couldn't understand it. This is the perfect climate to have tasty produce all year round. So I was very excited to make our first trip to the new (to us) market last weekend. We had such a great time and came home with so much good stuff that we headed back today. In addition to all of the good produce and friendly faces, there is a also a wonderful community garden and a great playground. I think we'll be making it a weekly outing since it makes every one happy. Last week we ate romanesco cauliflower for the first first fractal vegetable experience! And purple heirloom carrots, fresh satsumas, fresh dill, basil, parsley, and bok choy. Today we got an early batch of Florida strawberries, freshly popped kettle corn, a beautiful head of lettuce picked this morning, and bright green spinach. If you are in the area, I highly recommend a trip to the Beaches Green Market. Every Saturday 2-5 at Jarboe Park, Neptune Beach.

Trains and Ice Cream

January 14, 2009

Every time we return home from a trip the kids always get a kick out of "re-discovering" their toys and books. For the past week we have cleared back the furniture in the living room to set up our wooden train set. Camille is really starting to get into the train stuff and Noah's obsession has been revived. It's been nice for all of us to play together. Yes, I also enjoy playing with the trains. I think they are probably one of the best investments we (and the grandparents) have made in terms of toys. There are limitless options for designing track lay outs and adding little village scenes. They are great for a wide range of ages. And they last. My mom still has the set of Brio trains my sister and I played with as kids. I can see why there are so many grown men still playing with trains in their basements and attics. I would love to one day have a train garden. And related to the topic of play but not specific to trains, look at this little scene I discovered on the kitchen window ledge:It made me smile to see a rooster, a cat, a bunny, and a puppy sharing an ice cream treat (from the dollhouse). Camille is in love with little things and recently I have been discovering little scenes similar to this one in unexpected spots. Happy little discoveries.

TV Mom

January 13, 2009

Yesterday morning's conversation:

Me: "Noah, please get dressed. This is the last time I am going to tell you. Do you want to be late for school? Camille and I are about to get in the car".

Noah: "Why can't you be more like Sid the Science Kid's mom? She never yells at Sid".

M: "Maybe that's because he gets dressed the first time she tells him"

N: "No, he never gets dressed because he gets to wear the same clothes all the time. Why can't I do that?"

Ugh. So it has been over a week since the kids have seen tv and yet here I am getting compared to a tv mom. It's the first time (but I am sure it won't be the last) that Noah has openly compared me to other moms. I bet that tv mom never has to deal with recurrent pink eye (yes, Noah has it again!), sleeping in a twin bed with two wild monkeys, and an on-going battle with prehistoric silverfish. Must be nice to never have to do laundry because your perfect tv kid just lives in the same outfit but that doesn't seem too hygenic, so you can't be all that "perfect". Damn you, tv mom, for making real moms look bad!

So I headed to yoga class today with these thoughts in my head and I ended up leaving in a much better mood. I love taking yoga classes with older Jewish women at the local Jewish community center. So much better than those power yoga classes I used take on the Marine base...surrounded by young muscular divas...I usually left class feeling sore and old. My older classmates make me feel good on two levels. First, it makes me appreciate having a young, strong, flexible body. I am far from perfect but I can feel my body starting to respond to being back on the mat and that makes me feel good. I will never be anywhere near the muscular diva Marine level, but that's not my goal. But here's the second and perhaps even more important reason I love taking classes with older Jewish women. I love being surrounded by a wide variety of personalities and body types. I love looking around the room and seeing all of us contorted into crazy looking pretzels. I love seeing the bulges, the wrinkles, the bodies of real women who have birthed babies, broken bones, carried pain, and jumped for joy.

Give me a bunch of real women any day of the week...they are way better than those "perfect" tv moms (yet another reason to keep the tv off!). And as much as I would love to always be the perfect mom in my son's eyes, I would much rather strive to be myself and to be happy with that even if it means I yell sometimes and my children daydream about living on a tv show. I will try to yell less, but I will still insist that Noah put on clean clothes each morning.

Grumpy and Frumpy

January 10, 2009

Wouldn't that be a good t-shirt? or a blog name? That's what I have been feeling lately due to some serious sleep issues in our house. Actually I've been dealing with sleep issues for the past six years (since my pregnancy with our monkey boy). And I am not good about dealing with it. I get so grumpy when I don't get enough sleep. I especially dislike waking up sore in the morning because I have spent the night clinging to the edge of mattress while being kicked, elbowed, and manhandled by two monkeys sleeping sideways in my bed. Things are a little worse than normal as we are dealing with this transition period. And poor Adam....when I tried to talk to Noah about the sleeping situation he told me he had it all figured out: "Mei-Mei and I will sleep with you in your bed and we'll make a little nest on the floor for Daddy when he gets home".

I have been dealing with the sleep stuff long enough to know that things will settle down and we will eventually all be sleeping a little better. I don't need to stock up on books or ask for advice. I know better than to complain around others who are getting sleep or even worse those who aren't because that always leads to a competitive little discussion of who is getting less sleep. So think of this post as the t-shirt I should have been wearing this past week. It goes well with the dark circles under my eyes and the wrinkled pair of jeans I seem to wear over and over because it's just too much trouble to find something else in the morning: "Grumpy and Frumpy".

January Beach Day

January 7, 2009

And this is why we love living in Florida...a beach trip to celebrate the first day back to school. Noah thrashed in the waves. Camille made gumbo and matzah ball soup from sand. My mom hunted for shells and I took a cat nap in the sun. In addition to weeding, I think regular beach trips are going to help us survive this final stage of the deployment.

The Trip Back

It was a rainy, hectic, cram-it-all- into-the-van departure and once everyone was buckled up/ready to go we discovered the battery was dead! And all I can say is "Thank You!" to my saintly family. I kept pushing back our departure because I just couldn't seem to get it together. I couldn't get everything packed and organized the way I wanted. I couldn't seem to say good-bye to everyone on my list. But Friday night and Saturday morning my family rallied around and worked their magic. Serious packing magic. I still have no idea how they managed to get so many things into our van but they have many years of packing experience and training (thanks to my Grandfather and their multiple moves between Louisiana and Haiti/Dominican Republic). And a huge thank you to my mom for making the treacherous two day drive with us. I was worried about the broken dvd player but it was the very stormy weather that made the drive so scary. But happily we did make it back and we were warmly welcomed by all of our neighbors.

Both kids are back in school. Noah has enthusiastically jumped back into the swing of things. He starts each day anxious to get to school and eager to get home each afternoon to play with his neighborhood pal. Camille on the other hand is having a harder time. She was convinced (although we repeatedly discussed the reality) that Adam would be waiting to surprise us at her "Florida house". So when we arrived, she frantically search each room for him. It was very sad. Returning to school has also been hard for her and she repeatedly asks to go back to Ms. Mandy's school (her teacher in Louisiana). But things are getting a little easier for her each day. As with all of our moves/changes getting her back into a daily routine is key so we are working on that.

Our house is in pretty good shape except for the infestation of silverfish and a very moldy garage. Serious mold on everything in the garage...stroller, shoes, sports equipment, etc. And I am still trying to remember how to work various things in the house (amazing how many appliance clocks I need to update, re-learning how to work the alarm, the timers on exteriors lights, etc.). I couldn't quite remember how to work the tv/dvd player when we first returned. The kids witnessed my frustration and are now convinced the tv doesn't work so they don't even ask to watch (which is a good thing because I think they watched enough tv during our last few days in Louisiana to last a was the only way I could get any packing done...sad but true since they kept unpacking things anytime my back was turned). I feel tired but happy to be back and happy to have lots to keep me busy in the next few weeks before Adam's return. And did I mention there was lots of weeding/yard work? I have been outside every chance I get and it feels so good to have my hands back in the dirt. So we are back, we are adjusting, we are busy, and we are one step closer to having Adam home.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2009

IMG_9350, originally uploaded by DimSum,Bagels,and Crawfish.May 2009 be a year of joy, good books, amazing adventures, new discoveries, and peace. With love from our family to yours!

Lucia, Adam, Noah, and Camille

Latest Instagrams

© Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish. Design by FCD.