why i don't like where i live

on saturday rupert had to call 911 for the second time in as many weeks because of an accident in front of our house. we have the misfortune of living at the corner of the biggest intersection in our neighborhood. it's not a big neighborhood but there's a four-lane street in front of our house that's quite long. as a result we get a lot of cars that speed down the street at all hours of the day. we even have crazy folks doing figure eights in the intersection in the evening, revving their engines and leaving tire marks.

the last two accidents were both apparently caused by cars that ran a red light (can't say for sure as i haven't seen the police reports). about two weeks ago a kid on a skateboard was hit by a car. rupert happened to be in the frontyard at the time talking to our neighbor. they had their backs turned to the street so they didn't see the impact but they heard it. when rupert turned around he saw the kid flying through the air and land in the street. the impact from this weekend's accident caused one of the cars to go crashing onto the sidewalk between a utility box and a wall. luckily, there was no one on the sidewalk. there was, however, a family with two kids on the sidewalk across the street. if the car had swerved the other way who knows what could've happened to that family.

every time this happens, and there have been at least four of five accidents that we've been around for since we moved in, i get scared to death that a car is going to come crashing into our house one of these days. it's also frightening to think that everytime we cross the street -- and it's often because we walk to school every day and walk to the park and the library about once a week, if not more often -- i'm putting my children in danger's way. i have to trust that people in cars are paying attention, following the rules of the road, and not speeding. since i cross the street so often i forget that there are thoughtless drivers who think nothing of speeding when there are children around; and i get careless and cross on a green light, assuming that cross traffic has stopped.

so there's another thing to put on my list of "wants" when (actually, more like "if") we start thinking about moving: a house on a quiet street with very little traffic.


week 42.

maya @ 42 weeks :: august 25, 2006
  • when she's in a sitting position she likes to topple over on purpose. but, smart girl that she is, she only does it when she's on a soft surface.
  • besides cheerios, baby food with oatmeal in it also makes her spit up. i wonder if she isn't digesting oat very well??
  • she says, "mama" when she wants solids or wants me.
  • she enjoys trips to the local wading pool at the park. she splashes and (no surprise) scoops water into her mouth, and also crawls towards the deeper part of the pool.
  • this has continued from day one, but the girl just doesn't like to sleep.
  • she tries to play catch: i roll her a ball, she picks it up and throws it. not necessarily to me, but she throws it nonetheless.
  • she pretends to hand you stuff but then she pulls her hand back. psych!
  • she's cruising around the couch and coffee table.
  • she likes to bang her head on stuff.
  • her poop is harder ... and stinkier! it appears she may not be getting enough water.
  • unlike her brother, she is not really bothered by the vacuum cleaner.



people i know are often deceived into thinking i'm a good parent. but that's not it at all. i have to give credit to my son. ian is an amazing kid. and i'm not saying that because i'm his mother. he really is a freakishly well-behaved child.

a trip to the supermarket today made me realize -- yet again -- how blessed i am to be ian's mom: from about four aisles away i could hear a child's hysterical crying and an adult yelling. a little boy was sitting in the shopping cart clearly unhappy, and a very well dressed older woman was yelling at him, "do you want to go to jail?!" over and over again. it was actually quite distressing to continue hearing this little boy screaming for the next 10 minutes. at the checkout line the grandmother was yelling at the boy to "sit your butt down!" and the boy responding, "granny, you're stupid!" and such. just listening to the two of them stressed me out.

and when i looked next to me, there was ian, calm as ever having a conversation with me. i couldn't help but say a little thank you to whatever powers (beit a god, genes, or just plain ol' luck) allowed me to have ian for a son. he has never, and i mean never, thrown a crying fit, either at home or in public. sure, he's been pouty and shed a few silent tears when he hasn't gotten his way, but he tries so hard to understand why rupert or i had to say "no" to him.

sometimes he appears to be much older than he is. i oftentimes expect him to think and act like an adult, and i get frustrated and upset when he acts like a five-year-old. i actually forget that he's just a kid. i have to remember to let ian be himself, to give him the time and space to enjoy his childhood, and to let him know how lucky i am that he calls me "mama."


i {heart} alton!

i can't get enough of alton brown. i watch the 7pm episode of "good eats" and i try to stay up for the 11pm one, too. i could almost care less about "iron chef america," except that alton's the commentator. and he totally swept me off my feet with "feasting on asphalt."

i am seriously in love with him. why? i'm not 100% sure, but he sort of reminds me of rupert, because he's kinda cheesy and he has stubble (at least on "feasting on asphalt"). but even better, he cooks! and he knows food.

last saturday was the final episode of "feasting on asphalt". right before the commercial breaks they show several photos from that part of the trip. one of the photos was of alton wincing in pain from an accident he got into, and it set my heart aflutter. dare i say it? it was even sexy. ack! i actually said it. and then, when he discovered the lunch box stove that truckers use, he got so excited. it was totally adorable! swoon!

and the best part is, before the end of his cross-country trip, he stopped in the town where i live. rupert and i were like, "oh my god! oh my god! alton was in hawthorne!!" needless to say, we were very excited and now we're eager to try the eateries he went to in our humble little town city. i am particularly intrigued by the royal burger at b&r burgers ... all two-and-a-half pounds of it!

if they ever come out with a dvd of this series, it will be added to our collection so i can ogle alton whenever i want!

(here's a link to a post about this particular episode at the fan site's message board: the cop in the episode is "ccognac" and writes a bit about the episode. he's also filming his own show for the food network to be aired this fall. if you're local, you may be interested in his website: the culinary detective.)


proof that she's a lil peanut

that's maya between baby T (on the left) and baby L (on the right). they all look to be about the same height (length), right? baby T is 26 inches, maya is 25.5 inches, and baby L is 25 inches. that's all fine and dandy, except that baby T is 6 months and baby L is 4 months; maya is, by far, the oldest and she's barely bigger than either of them!

also, from left to right, it's cute to see that they're lined up in order of pudginess too. :)

[@ baby T's house for an impromptu playdate after a wwam lunch]


week 41.

maya @ 41 weeks :: august 18, 2006
  • if you ask her "oishii?" (does it taste good?) she sort of nods her head.
  • she is learning how to sit down more gently from a standing position. instead of just letting go, she bends her knees while still holding on and lowers herself before letting go.
  • when she has stuff in her hands that i don't want her to have, i've found that if i ask her nicely "choudai" (please give it to me) she complies without a fuss ... usually.
  • she loves to climb on to things, like boxes, suitcases, and people. some of her current favorite playthings are empty cardboard boxes, bongos, shakey things (like maracas), and newspapers.
  • she likes mangoes.
  • we've had to move things on the coffee table towards the center because she pulls stuff down.
  • she rushes (i.e., crawls super-fast) towards the kitchen when she hears rupert come home from work.
  • finally, she's showing some interest in looking at books, instead of eating them. part of her bedtime ritual includes a book (good night moon read by rupert or a japanese book read by me).


week 40.

maya @ 40 weeks :: august 11, 2006
  • she's learning to sit herself down from a standing position. basically, she's not afraid to let go anymore and falls on her butt (without toppling over). she's also gotten more courageous about letting go. she easily stands while holding on with just one hand and, although she's not cruising yet (thank goodness!), if she's standing between the couch and the coffee table she can start off by facing the couch but steady herself well enough to turn around and face the coffee table.
  • eating tofu, bananas, sweet potatoes
  • cheerios made her throw up.
  • when i'm undressing her she helps me. she pulls her arms out when i hold her sleeves and then she tries to pull the shirt off over her head.
  • nothing new, but she loves loves loves to rip up paper.
  • i'm trying to (once again) wean her off the midnight feeding. giving her water and calmly, and repeatedly, lying her down in her crib is starting to work ... sort of.
  • don't know where she learned it but she strums her lips in that "bluh bluh bluh" way.
  • if you make exaggerated kissy noises she'll copy you, and sometimes will try to blow kisses. well, not really blow an actual kiss but she puts her hand on her mouth and waves it out.


this could be a record

guess what? today is my blog birthday. yup, one year since i started this thing. and i didn't think i would last longer than three days! honestly, i am flabbergasted that i actually managed to continue something for more than nine months. since graduating from college the only things i've managed to do for longer than nine months is stay married and care for my kids.

a year ago i was obsessed with decluttering and trying to get the house ready before the baby (i.e., maya) was born. i said:

so, the unoriginal idea for now is to write a sbing (i.e., scrapbooking) and i'm-pregnant-and-i-have-a-soon-to-be-kindergartener blog with an emphasis on half-ass parenting & housekeeping.
i think i've pretty much stuck to my original plan, but for some reason i feel like i'm veering towards "boring blog." i'm not sure why anyone would be interested in reading about my kids and looking at the occasional scrapbook layout i make. i'm torn between finding the balance of writing for myself and writing for outside readers. reading back on entries from last fall i'm really glad i documented the milestones and the everyday happenings of our family. i've actually forgotten quite a bit already. at the same time i don't know if i've improved my writing style or found my voice.

i have to keep writing. there's still so much to say, so much to share, so much to realize. i'm happy i took the plunge into the blogosphere. now that i've passed the one-year mark i feel like this isn't just a passing obsession, but a real part of my life. another aspect of my creative side. something to be nurtured and worked on.

so, bear with my folks. i'm gonna keep writing. whether it'll be good or bad, i can't say (hopefully good). all i know is that my grammar is getting poorer, my writing more choppy, and my mind increasingly all over the place. but that's just who i am, and the longer i write the more of my inner self will be reveiled.


i make 'em small

yesterday was maya's 9-month check up. i knew she hadn't grown very much since her last appointment three months ago, but i didn't think she was this petite:

weight 15 pounds (+ 9 oz) :: third percentile
height 25.5 inches (+ 0 in) :: fifth percentile
head circumference 42 cm (+ 0.5 cm) :: fifth percentile

ian was much the same in size and weight at this age (as far as i can recall), so i guess our kids are just small. at least they can wear their clothes for a long time!

edited: allison asked about cheerios, which i forgot to mention in this post. i was elated when the doctor gave the go-ahead for cheerios. maya's fine motor skills are pretty good and she can pick up small objects with her thumb and index finger. she also has a pretty good appetite and has been adding some plain table food to her diet (thanks to my mom), like tofu and non-jarred fruit. when rupert gave her some cheerios she started stuffing her face with them; fist-fulls of cheerios were aimed at her mouth but only a few managed to actually get consumed. we thought, "hey, this is great!" but then she proceeded to vomit it all up. not spit up the cheerios, throw it up! we took the cheerios away but she found a few more on the floor, which she ate and proceeded to throw up as well. it's really weird; she's never had this kind of reaction to any food. i'm afraid to try again ... is it possible she's allergic to oats? it also is possible that she swallowed the cheerios without chewing/gumming them. maybe that bothered her stomach?


studio jjk fan club

one of my favorite children's authors/illustrators is jarrett j krosoczka; i adore his illustrations and use of paints. he has a great website where i got the iron ons for these shirts i made for me and rupert. the front of rupert's shirt has little pics of the animals from the book.

viva punk farm!

and since we're a family that does everything together, i made maya a giddy up, cowgirl! onesie, which is still a bit too large for her to wear.

ian is a walking advertisement for jarrett's new book, my buddy, slug, which comes out in september. be sure to buy it!

more conversations with a 5-year-old

after some debate over when maya will start walking ...

rupert: wanna bet maya'll start walking before she's one?
ian: i think she'll start walking when she's 15 months. okay, let's make this interesting. if i win, the whole family gets to go to a donut place.
rupert: and if i win?
ian: you get a spa and nails (manicure)!


conversations with a 5-year-old

ian: so what made you get him [rupert]? his cuteness or his comedy?
me: hmm ... a little bit of both. what do you think made me get him?
ian: probably his comedy.
rupert: he doesn't think i'm very cute.


6-man vball

manhattan beach, where our parents live, is a big beach town. famous for its beach volleyball tournaments, its casual beach/surfer lifestyle, and now, it's mega-million homes. i grew up in this town on the "eastside," which is not as highly regarded since it's farther away from the beach. but back when i was growing up, this place wasn't as expensive and exclusive as it is now. anyway, being an eastsider and not a very outdoorsy family, we rarely made it to the beach. so i'd never been to many of the major events that take place down there.

one of those events is the surf festival, a whole weekend of beach sports activities. we finally went this past weekend because our friend MZ was on a 6-man volleyball team with his brother. although it can be a pretty fierce and serious tournament (there are former olympians, pro beach vball players, and college players who participate), it also has a distinctly beach/crazy vibe to it. most of the teams dress up and there's a lot of drinking before, during and after the tournament. MZ's team was dressed up like the cleveland braves from the movie "major league." we saw superheroes, cereal characters, guys in girl scout uniforms, and girls in '70s bikini getups. the event is extremely popular; sign-ups fill up quick and there are thousands of people who come to see it. there are at least 32 courts set up from the manhattan beach pier (where the above picture was taken) for four blocks.

but because we're not much for crowds, we left after about 10 minutes. we walked to rupert's parents' beach house and let the grandparents take the kids. rupert and i went down to the water alone for the first time in years to enjoy a nap and a quick swim. it was heavenly!


week 39.

maya @ 39 weeks :: august 4, 2006
  • went to her first wedding in los gatos.
  • ate peach for the first time; she bit it right off the actual fruit.
  • long car rides give her diaper rash. bad diaper rash.
  • likes the gap commercial for their line of jeans. she'll even dance to the music.
  • can't get enough of standing up ... it would help, though, if she knew how to sit herself back down! she still has to hold on to something when she stands up, but she lets go of one hand and even lifts up one leg. why? i don't know.


she stole my line!

have you seen this? apparently it's been around on the mommy blogosphere as of late, but i just found it through a usa today article.

i read helen kirwan-taylor's column, and although i don't agree with some of her choice of words, i totally understand what she's saying. as if you couldn't tell, i'm not one of those moms who is child-centric. far from it, in fact. case in point, as i'm writing this the kids are playing by themselves. (yesterday, when i started this post, ian was doing geography work on his own and maya was crying in her crib.)

sometimes i feel horribly guilty that i'm not a super-mom and my children are not always the center of my universe. when i go to mommy-and-me class with maya i see the other moms dote on their offspring, and talk about their days' activities as if they do nothing but play/feed/bathe/read/talk to their child. and then i think about my children who spend a great deal of time on their own and i feel bad.

why in the world did i have children if i can't devote myself to them?

then i come to my senses and wonder: why should i second-guess myself? moms in general have it rough already. there's no reason i should put myself down as a mother; i do my best, i try hard, and i'm constantly thinking about how to raise my children to be good human beings. regardless of what others think or what other moms do, this is my parenting style. i don't love my children any less than other parents. ian and maya know that i love them, and i know they love me. doesn't that mean i'm doing my job?

what the columnist said in the usa today article really caught my eye ... because it's as if i said it:
"i'm not a bad mother. i call myself a 'good enough' mother. i feed them. i'm nice to them. i cuddle them. i love them."
however unpopular this opinion may be, i think over-parenting and being child-centric does have an impact on what kind of person a child grows up to be. it also takes a toll on the mother. i may be their mama, but ian and maya need to know that i'm also a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, and my own person. having these roles means that i can't always be hovering around them. sometimes i'll have to miss a soccer game. a lot of times they'll have to play by themselves. sometimes they won't get to go out to dinner with me and rupert. and that's okay. they'll survive. not only will they survive, but if i've raised them right, they'll thrive when i'm not around.

i'll never win "mother of the year" but i'm not ashamed of the parent i am. and as i sit here typing away, doing my own thing, i look over and see my kids being content individuals, i know i'm doing a fairly decent job being a good enough mother.


los gatos

we spent last weekend in los gatos (near san jose, ca) for a friend's wedding. it was basically our only getaway for the summer. luckily the heatwave took a break and the weather was pretty pleasant for the four days we were away.

since the wedding was on sunday evening, we spent saturday with some other friends who live in the bay area, visiting stanford and having dinner in los gatos.

[left: rupert, ian & maya @ stanford]
[right: ian & maya with our friends J+J @ los gatos town square]

on sunday morning we went to the farmers market in town and had a picnic at vasona lake county park. this park is really great (although you have to pay to park in their lots; there's still some free street parking around the park) -- there's a carousel, a train, a lake with geese, and plenty of playgrounds and picnic areas.

the wedding was held at the historic opera house in downtown los gatos. it was a beautiful wedding and reception, blending the couple's japanese and vietnamese heritages. it was especially poignant because the bride's mother passed away last year, and it was very evident how much she is missed.

we had a great time at the reception, even though maya was cranky or asleep in my arms for a good portion of the evening. but she was a sweetie when our friend A babysat her while rupert and i ate our dinner. i took the kids back to the hotel a bit early so rupert could have some time catching up with our college friends, and then he relieved me of babysitting duties so i could go back and shake my groove thang in the horrible way that i do.

congrats to t+g, the happy bride and groom!