Friday, June 18, 2010


After pondering for months about what to get Ely for her first birthday, I've decided:

Spoons. Spoons. and more spoons.

She loves them. She loves them more than anything else at this point in her life, I tell you.

On Thursday we met some friends for dinner. She behaved like an angel until it was time to leave and she wanted to bring home a souvenir- a spoon!

We currently have a spoon somewhere at the bottom of our bed because last night she would not let go of her spoon from dinner! So, I nursed her to sleep and fell asleep myself, which means the spoon went MIA after repeatedly hitting my forehead as she dozed off. (Maybe I should go rescue the spoon now that she's asleep in her Pack n´Play unarmed?)

Today, she carried her spoon from lunch all. around. the. mall.

The kicker: She doesn't eat from a spoon! She prefers her mush served on my pointer finger.

What do you think this is? a sign of her destiny to become an old lady with a horrible spoon collection from all the places she's visited? Do you think she's hoping to find a silver one?

P.S. I'm (semi-) joking about giving her spoons, but if I don't come up with something soon, spoons it will be!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The same, but different

As the topic of expanding families begins to emerge among my mommy friends, the "Can you ever love a second one as much as you love the first?" question arises with regularity. The experienced moms among us usually say, "Yes, but you love them differently." It's much the same with countries.

I love the USA because it's the place that made me who I am. It's the place that holds all my childhood memories. It's the place where neighbors know and look out for each other. It's the place where kids whose families have helicopters go to the same public schools as kids whose families struggle to make ends meet (and the kids don’t care who has what!) It's the place where a person's word means something. It's the place where sweets taste as good as they look. It's so many things...

My great love for my homeland doesn’t diminish my love for the land where my daughter was born. I love Chile because it's the place where I became an adult. It's the place where you can enjoy life and if that means being a little late sometimes, it's okay. It's the place with ferias and whole streets dedicated to selling one thing. It’s the place where the majesty of the Andes reminds us of how very small our problems are. It's the place where people are allowed/encouraged/expected to take time out from their day to nourish themselves and spend time socializing as they partake of the sacred right to almorzar (eat lunch). It's the place where those who have the least are the most generous. It is so many things…

(Disclaimer: I’m well aware that “Santiago no es Chile”. To be fair, the metro DC area is not the USA, either. Let’s just say that my examples refer to my experiences and not the whole country.)

I’ve had two “This is the Chile I love” moments lately. The first was reading this blog entry, written by a dear friend who captured a slice of Chile perfectly. Domingo is Chile in so many ways.

The second, was driving up San Pablo after this morning's soccer win. The street was flooded with people wearing red, waving flags, tooting horns, jumping, screaming, and overflowing with joy. The beat of the drums jostled every bone in my body and the street was alive! This is the Chile I love. It's not the sparkles of Sanhattan or the flawless new highways; it's this, when Santiago shows the world that it is not "Latin America-light”, that I fall in love all over again!

All of this re-infatuation makes me wonder how Ely will feel about her two countries. Will she even feel like she has two? Or is the USA just the place where mommy's from? Will she feel like she “belongs" in both places? or will she struggle to find a place for herself in either one? Which will feel like home to her?

I hope that she will achieve what I finally have. I hope she loves each country the same, but different. Azadeh Moaveni said it so perfectly in Lipstick Jihad: “I resigned myself to never saying goodbye, because I now realized that I would perpetually exist in each world feeling the tug of the other.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cruze, you say?

Warning: This post has nothing to do with Ely.

I learned a lot in college, most of which I can’t regurgitate on demand anymore, but it’s all there somewhere. One of the few lessons that I remember clearly was from the Marketing section of the dreaded COB 300. The professor was talking about qualitative marketing research, specifically the Product Diffusion Curve .

I remember this lesson clearly, not because the concept was so ground-breaking, rather because I could identify where I fell (and still fall) on the curve, immediately. I, my dear friends, am a faithful member of the late majority. While I’m not necessarily a follower by personality, I’m not a trend-setter, by any stretch of the imagination.

My dear husband, however, is a card-carrying member of the early adopters for all things technology and automobile related. He’d love to be, and sometimes is, an innovator, but he shares most purchasing decisions with people who are waaaay behind him on the curve (me at home, his family at work).

Whenever we’re about to make a big purchase, our differences are really brought to light! It drives him crazy that I go with tried-and-true and I get sleepless about his love for the new-fangled and sparkly.

This particular episode of “one spouse frustrated, one spouse sleepless” began a looong time ago when R started bugging me hinting about getting a bigger car. I tried to fend him off and was successful for quite a while.

Then, about two weeks ago, he cranked it up. His technique was impressive. It really became apparent how well he knows me because if he’d said, “I think you should get a model car that’s just being released.” I would have told him where to go with that idea. But, step-by-step he talked his change-resistant, uncool, late majority wife into it.

We compared, contrasted and test drove until we came back to the car R had (in retrospect) been mentioning throughout the whole process…the new Chevrolet Cruze. And here it is…. Wait for it… He was right! It was the perfect car for us. So, for the very first time in my life, I became an early adopter!

I’ve had the car in my possession for less than 24 hours, but I’m so much more excited than I ever expected to be about a car. This afternoon, I had a moment that made me love it even more:

I was driving home and decided to try out the CD player (yes, CD as opposed to MP3 or whatever the cool kids are listening to these days. Remember? Late majority!) I dug out an old CD and sang along (horribly off-key, of course) to some of the romantic, country songs that I used to listen to in college. I used to listen to the words and think, “I’d like to have that some day.” Only, this time around, I got all giddy, butterflies in the tummy (There’s a ten month old in the house, we say “tummy” around here.), and I realized I do have that!

It was an especially cheesy moment when I realized all over again how lucky I am to have R. He knows me so well (and loves me anyway! Crazy man!) Even if he can use that knowledge to “work” me, that’s not a bad thing when he has my best interest at heart and I get a new car out of it! It’s pretty priceless to not only love your husband, but to be in love with him. It’s also pretty darn nice to feel that new love sensation (almost) five years into a marriage. It beats the heck out of the new car smell!

On a semi-related note: R is pretty in love with the car… Kinda makes me doubt my rank on his list of loves... I know the list includes: Ely, me, his “big black truck”, new models of cars, and technology but I’m not sure in what order. Maybe it’s better not to know. Hey, I’m happy with Top 5! Ooooohhh, but what if soccer is in there too? I could be in trouble!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Little Mermaid

As a child who grew up taking extended-family summer vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee, taking swim lessons, being a (less-than-stellar mediocre) member of a swim team (what can I say? I’ve never been much for athletic competition), and with a dear friend who had a pool in her back yard, water was an important part of my childhood. I have priceless memories involving water.

It was not by accident that I was comfortable in the water. My mom started taking me to swimming lessons, cutely called Bitty Baby Bubbles when I was a bitty baby and continued on with me into Buster Baby Bubbles. (Considering the clumsiness that has been and remains my faithful life companion, I’m pretty sure the latter would have been a better name for what I’d been doing all along!) Then, there were years and years of swimming lessons after that (Tickle, T, Pull anyone?)

So, when Ely was born, or rather when I found out I was pregnant, I just knew I’d take the babe to swimming lessons as soon as possible. In fact, when R and I were going through finances when we decided I’d stay home with Ely, I’m quite sure I told him, “ I just want to make sure we’ll still be able to do swimming lessons and things like that.” (At least I have my priorities straight, right?)

I’m happy to report that my little mermaid had her first swim lesson on Tuesday. She, along with nine other adorable babies clad in bathing suits and ridiculous swim caps, took the plunge. Most of the babies really loved the water and all of the moms loved the lesson (but not the equally ridiculous swim caps we all had to wear!).

The teacher did a nice job of getting the babies progressively more comfortable in the pool. We sang lots of fun songs, one that was particularly catchy: “Tengo una casita, muy linda y chiquitita. Si quieres entrar, tienes que soplar” (I’m pretty sure R has had enough of my off-tune rendition of that one!)

It was all fun and games until… the part where the babies were supposed to go under water! I knew this was coming, but I didn’t expect it at the first lesson. The first baby under was Sam-the-Swimming-Super-Star. He did an awesome job! While we applauded him, my stomach wrenched.

As a mom who really tries to respect my daughter’s personal rhythms and timing, I was really conflicted: She seemed totally comfortable with the lesson up to that point, but I know from bath time that she’s not a big fan of the whole water-on-the-face idea. Yet, I didn’t want to underestimate her or let my own reservations get in her way.

So, after two solid minutes of thinking about whether to take our turn, I decided that I’d try it once, but if she didn’t like it, we’d wait until she put her face in on her own to try again. Well, this little mermaid did just fine. There wasn’t a tear or a cough and she went right back to playing with the water.

Maybe she had no idea what happened, maybe she’s just blissfully unaware of the danger not being able to breathe presents (I realizes there was no real danger at swimming lessons) or maybe it rocked her world and she can’t wait to do it again. Who knows? I’m just glad I didn’t stand in her way. And I hope, with all my heart, that this is the first step to a childhood chock-full of as many sweet, water-related memories as mine.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Twenty Nine

So, the calendar says that it's already June 5. How the heck did that happen? How has it been a whole year since I started maternity leave (yes, we get six weeks BEFORE the due date AND 12 weeks after!) and celebrated 28 with bbq and a few great friends?

Regardless of how quickly the year flew by, it has been a noteworthy one, indeed. It brought wonderful changes and experiences. To name a few:
  • The arrival of Ely and the transition from couple to family
  • More time than usual with mom and dad
  • Taking a job that doesn't include a salary, but for which I'm paid every single day in smiles and hugs.
  • Meeting new friends and having more time to catch up with old friends
As I mentioned in the post on the private blog, on the night of the earthquake, both R and I were pretty sure that was the end. I distinctly remember thinking, "It's been a good life." and feeling thankful for the days I'd had. So, it goes without saying that I'm incredibly thankful to have been blessed with all of the days since.

I'm glad to have lived my 28th year and look forward to my 29th. I don't feel any sadness about the encroaching big 3-0! I'm thrilled to have made it this far and grateful for what my life has turned out to be. As none of us has tomorrow assured, I'll be happy for each day this year.

If I could make one birthday wish, it would be to have North and South America be just a little closer together. (God, please take note: I'd prefer this be achieved without another earthquake!)

If that's out of the question, how about world peace?

If I had to, I'd settle for the addition of a direct flight to DC or BWI.

Happy 29th birthday to me. Happy 29th Anniversary of parenthood to my dear parents. And happy June 5th to you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My First Kiss

Some kisses you remember, some you’d rather forget and some you really do forget.

Today, I had a first kiss that I will never, ever forget! It was bath time, a time we both enjoy. She was playing with her Gladware and rubber ducky (I’m too cheap to buy any REAL bath toys!). She pulled herself close to me. I put my forehead to hers, which always gets a smile. She pulled back and then came in and planted one on me!

Granted, it was more like a lip suck with more tongue than a highschooler. That runny nose didn’t faze me, either. You see, this is the first time that Ely has initiated a kiss. She’s given me one when I pester her repeatedly ask, but this time it was all her idea. She may not speak English or Spanish yet, but those eyes said, “I love you, mom” and my heart melted right then and there.

Just More Me

When I was little, I wanted to be a million things:

· A Harlem Globetrotter- My best friend in kindergarten T, convinced me that we could go out for the team together. We knew our inclusion on the team would be ground breaking, as we would be the first girls on the team, but I don’t think either of us considered that race might also be a problem for me.

· An Astronaut- Once T and I figured out that we were dreadfully uncoordinated; we set our sights a little lower- outerspace! So we joined Young Astronauts and dreamed our dreams.

· A veterinarian/Private Eye- One day, C, G, M and I were discussing our futures. We were faced with indecision and decided that there was no reason we couldn’t be two things: one during the day and one at night. We hated bedtime, anyways!

· An Actress- In sixth grade I had to give a speech about my idol. I chose Kirsty Alley because she was SOO beautiful! My mom made persuaded me change my idol. She suggested Sandra Day O’Connor and provided some pretty convincing arguments. I gave in, but just for the speech! I was still going to be an actress, just like Kirsty Alley.

· An Olympic pole dancer (yup!)- One year, C and I were watching Olympic gymnastics. We felt inspired to create our “own” art form. So, we swung ourselves around the utility pole in my parents’ basement. We worked for hours to perfect our routine to a St. Elmo’s Fire record (yes, record). We were convinced that if we could only get an Olympic scout to come watch us, they would realize that pole dancing just had to be part of the next Olympics.

I love that I remember those things so clearly because it gives me an insight into the mind I once had; the one that really, truly believed that anything was possible. The one that was blissfully ignorant of the ways of the world.

Somewhere along the way, when I was 16 or so, I decided that I wanted to be: a mom. I couldn’t think of a single profession that seemed more rewarding than motherhood. I’m sure that my parents were wondering what they’d done wrong thrilled with that idea! Just what every teenager’s parents want to hear, right? I think they found some solace in my plan to “be a smart mom”, which was my way of telling them not to worry; I was still going to college.

And so I did. To make a looong story short: I went to college. I got married. I worked as an EFL teacher and as an academic coordinator. Each step provided various levels of fulfillment. Then, the mommy bug bit and Ely was born. As it turns out, I was right about this mommy thing. It’s awesome.

Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen, reflecting on her experience as a mother, said:

I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That is exactly what I’ve experienced since Ely’s become part of our life. It’s partially because I have time to do the things that make me feel more like me. It’s also that I feel more connected to humanity at large.

I used to read a lot of non-fiction books about war, genocide, abuse, poverty, etc. Even though my soul wrenched, I could remove myself enough from the subjects to read the books as part of my quest for knowledge. These days, the evening news can bring me to tears and forget about violence in a movie. I just can’t handle it.

The problem is twofold: First, I see everyone, aggressor and victim, as someone’s baby. Second, I just want a better world for Ely. It’s a combination of those two things that make me more acutely aware of how my actions affect others.

I want a world where people don’t purposely hurt one another. I want a world where people look for beauty in each other and the world around them; where Ely can be oblivious to skin color and socio-economic status and see people for what they are: people. I want a world that genuinely loves her and every other mother’s baby, with total acceptance. I admit it; I want a utopia, complete and utter utopia.

I can’t change what really goes on out there, but change starts here at home. Conscious of this, I find myself living with a new peace, longing for harmony in my dealings with others: A little less me, a little more world/community/family. It’s refreshing.

I hope this peace remains with me at least through Ely’s childhood. I hope that she sees it modeled and that she learns to create it for herself. If she can manage that, anything IS possible.

Who knew that being a mom, I’d end up actually being a million things? So, I’m not a pole dancer, an actress or a singer (I think we can all agree that’s a good thing!) But, I am a peacemaker, a teacher, an administrative assistant, a pillow, a milk cow source of nutrition, a chef, a maid. Most importantly, I’m just more me.