Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Music Thursday

Did you check out my last music recommendations? 'Cause if you thought I was full of shit, you should feel bad about it, now that I can extra-officially tell you what hidden musical gems are out there. With the Miami New Times naming my company the "Best Music Website", I'm dubbing myself "Cool-Music-Identifier Extraordinaire". Catchy, isn't it? Rolls right off the tongue.

So, my picks for today focuses on Spain. That country is producing some really interesting, innovative artists. These artists are influenced by a wide variety of other artists from the U.S. and around the world, resulting in some really cool shit (I'm still working on learning music-industry lingo; this'll have to do for now).

Case in point, Guantanamera. These guys (and gals) have taken a fresh spin on traditional Cuban music, and it's damn cool. Must listen-to track: Contigo en la Distancia.

If you're into musicians like All-American Rejects, check out Melocos. They're a group of young guys (aside: they put their demos up on our site, and a record label exec heard them, loved them, and signed them to a deal with Peps Records/SONYBMG) that most likely make young ladies swoon with their scruffy-cute looks and fun, beachy pop. Must listen-to track: Cada Golpe.

And if rock's your thing (with a twist, of course), then you have to check Jarabe de Palo out. Cool, cool stuff. Creative. Just plain fun to listen to. Must listen-to track: Adelantando.

So go, my lovelies, expand your musical horizons.

Funny side note on the MNT Best Of: They've got a category called "Best Professor to Jam With". The winner? Is my cousin. Ha.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/31/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Jump From One to Two Is The Scariest of All

There’s a silent pressure in our house lately. While my husband and I are doing a decent job of managing that pressure and not letting it take over our lives, the pressure persists, silently pressing on us whenever we’re not dealing with any particular, immediate problem or situation.


I've caught your attention, haven't I? So head on over to GNMParents to continue reading this fabulous post.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/30/2007   | | | links to this post

I Can Tell You ¿Que Pasa USA?

There is one thing that perfectly encapsulates the Cuban-American exile experience: the masterpiece known as ¿Que Pasa USA?.

A project funded by the Emergency School Assistance Act (through the Office of Education at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare), QPU was a locally produced TV show that shared the experiences of a Cuban family as they struggled to hold on to their heritage and make sense of life in the United States. It was groundbreaking in that it was the first bilingual TV show, and it aired throughout the United States on local public TV stations (back when it was in production, which, what on earth did people in middle America make of the Peña family??).

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable of all things ¿Que Pasa USA?. My fanaticism has been so great that I've pretty much memorized all the episodes. In fact, one of my favorite activities in junior and senior high (as a budding actress) was acting out the scenes for my friends (I'll still do it if you ask really nicely). At some point, lines from the show became part of my vocabulary. I can share with you all manner of trivia about the show and the actors (info I acquired pre-Internet, btw).

The thing is, there isn't much to this show as far as production quality and acting skills go (well, only in the younger actors; the adults were near-genius), but it's so dead on. So very much so. Watching that show as a kid (and even now as an adult) was like being in my own house. In fact, most CA's who grew up in Miami in the 70's and 80's will tell you the same thing. Yes, there were stereotypes and broad generalizations, but the spirit of it all is so very true. To this day, nothing on TV makes me laugh more than QPU (the $106 with shipping for the DVD collection is SO worth it).

Like any great, quirky thing, the more times you see the episodes, the more nuances that jump out at you. This is my favorite thing about QPU. It's one thing on the surface, but on repeated viewings, you notice all these hilarious, subtler lines and facial expressions that are easily missed. And there you find deeper meaning, or you recall your mother's (or father's or grandparent's) words, or you see your own image reflected back at you.


(In this clip, the Peña family has reluctantly agreed to let a local TV crew spend "A Typical Day in the Life of a Cuban-American Family")


For me, though, nothing beats the funeral episode...

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Posted by Tere @ 5/30/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Little Big Boy

The little changes that indicate my Max is moving more towards independence have become unignorable, thus making me sigh many times over the last week alone.

I can no longer deny that my boy is knee-deep into toddlerhood. There's no doubt about it. For me, it began when I noticed a few days ago that he is getting too heavy for me to carry for extended periods ("noticed" meaning that my arms felt like they were about to fall off). That my not-yet 21-month-old would ever feel heavy in my arms is a surprising thought. I've grown so used to thinking of him as "tiny" that that is what he is to me. When I see him surrounded by his daycare playmates and all of them are a good head taller than him, and when I slip on his size 12 months shorts and they hang off his waist, the notion that he is small for his age is reaffirmed, brought back to the surface, where I must acknowledge it and... and what? There is nothing wrong with him, physically or developmentally.

But I've grown used to regarding him as "small", and so to have him feel heavy in my arms is a new thing. Bigger than this, though, is how he wants to be carried less, preferring the freedom of running around. He will reach for me, and I've barely picked him up before he begins to squirm and let me know he wants to be put back down (this is, of course, a problem when we're out getting errands done). As he himself tries to figure out exactly what he wants, I'm caught in the middle, needing to be available when he runs to me for hugs, kisses and a back rub, and willing to let him go back on his own to his adventures.

There is, too, his new desire to walk (and not be carried) to and from the car whenever we go out. When we say "vamos" (let's go), he reaches his chubby hand out, grabs mine or Ben's, and heads for the door. He goes down the porch steps gingerly, sensing, I guess, their steepness. He goes right for the car (or Mimi's side gate, or our porch). He understands. He wants to get there on his own.

(Oh hell, how my chest hurts and my eyes smart with tears).

It's not just these things, of course. It is also the way he understands more complex concepts, how he knows his routine, how he talks more and more every day (counting one to ten on his own!), how he identifies his favorite cartoon characters by name, how he asks for specific foods or activities, how he expresses his desires in no uncertain terms, how he remembers things.

It is everything. Every day there is something new, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, that shows me that Max is growing. Growing up; growing smarter; growing funnier; growing more independent; growing away from me. It's as it should be. It's good.

But damn, it also causes an ache deeper than any I've ever known. And in the middle of all this excitement and wonder, I sigh. I sigh and feel the ache deepen, knowing that for the rest of my life, it will be this way. I am learning still to live with the constant joy and pain that defines motherhood.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/29/2007   | | | links to this post

Scattergories Meme

I was tagged by Balou. Instructions indicate that I "must answer each question using the first letter of your name. And it must be a "real" answer, nothing you made up. If you don't have an answer, skip it." So here I go:

Your Name: Tere
1. Famous Singer/Band: Tina Turner
2. 4 letter word: Tent
3. Street: Terrace (runs parallel to streets, so good 'nuff)
4. Color: Tan
5. Gifts/Presents: T-shirt
6. Vehicle: (Ferrari) Testarosa
7. Things in a Souvenir Shop: Tin cans
8. Boy Name: Tomás
9. Girl Name: Tatiana
10. Movie Title: Thirteen
11. Drink: tequila
12. Occupation: Therapist
13. Flower: Tulip
14. Celebrity: Tyler Florence (or Charlize Theron, depending on if this should be by first or last name)
15. Magazine: Town & Country
16. U.S. City: Tallahassee, FL
17. Pro Sports Teams: Titans (have no clue from where or what sport, but I know they exist)
18. Fruit: Tangerine
19. Reason for Being Late for Work: Traffic
20. Something You Throw Away: Trash
21. Things You Shout: Thanks! (from a distance? in excitement?)
22. Cartoon Character: Tom (of Tom & Jerry)

If you want to play along, consider yourself tagged. Leave a link in the comments section.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/29/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday Morning Wish

It'd be nice if, maybe just once, I could enjoy my morning coffee without a certain toddler panting, whining/grunting, and hopping right in front of me, asking for a sip - and promptly bursting into tears and throwing a holy tantrum when I deny him.

Maybe in about 10 years I can hope to enjoy my morning cup? Or maybe just finish my cup? A girl can only dream...

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Posted by Tere @ 5/26/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, May 25, 2007

How Stupid Was I To Think My Troubles Were So Far Away

Yesterday. Sucked. Big time. Today isn't faring any better.

Yesterday was a crappy day because Max was more, um, not-at-all-listening-to-me, cranky-at-every-damn-thing than usual. And I was in NO mood to deal with it. None. I was physically exhausted and, I don't know, just frustrated over how he keeps throwing his food all over the place; how he keeps smacking the TV with his toys or turning it on and off and on and off and onoffonoffonoff; how no discipline approach works on him (and damn, his laughing in my face took me to new heights of "I want to be the fuck alone"-ness); how he falls apart and throws a tantrum every time I remove him from a precarious position or take something he shouldn't be playing with away. I was so DONE when his bedtime came around. Done. Done. Done. I went to sleep hoping to leave it all behind and have a better Friday.

But today, today has been no better. I had a conversation with someone that just threw me into a funk. It was nothing big, it was something good for her, actually, it just made me think about this frustrating problem that I just can't resolve, no matter what I try to do about it, and I feel like it's about to take its toll on me. I feel like just when I decide to "make do" and "be happy with what I have", something happens to remind me that I'm miserable and frustrated and trapped (in relation to this problem).

Oh hell. I so need this long weekend.

Posted by Tere @ 5/25/2007   | | | links to this post

"The Entire Government Has Failed Us"

Keith Olbermann hands everybody their asses, and it freaking rocks!!!

Better than reading his powerful (true) words is watching the video.

Happy Friday and enjoy!




(via SOTP)


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Posted by Tere @ 5/25/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Morning Road Rage

Dear Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Reckless Mother in the greenish-gray Nissan Altima, license plate *737*I, driving south on SW 27 Ave and west on Coral Way around 8 a.m. today:

You are stupid. You are a fool. You are inches from a terrible, terrible tragedy, and it will solely be YOUR fault.

Your child looked to be somewhere between 5 and 6. From the little I could see, he/she looked on the slim side. So I highly doubt he/she weighs more than 80 pounds, which is the weight until which a child MUST be kept in a booster seat, per Florida LAW.

But let's say you don't care for the inconvenience of a booster seat. How much would it cost you to buckle your kid up, instead of letting him/her bounce around, popping from their seat to lean over to you in the driver's seat?

While I'm at it, may I suggest that you NOT read while making a right turn? How about you also NOT switch back and forth between lanes at 40 MPH? Remember that kid in the back seat? He/she will fly through the windshield the minute your reckless ass slams into someone.

Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if, when said crash happens - as it inevitably will - you pound your chest and wail "Why me?" Let me save you the trouble. "Why you" - because you are the one who didn't buckle your kid up; you are the one who let him/her move around the car; you are the one who was reading a piece of paper while driving; you are the one who was treating the lanes like your own personal race course; you are the one who was speeding.

Your child may die over your overt recklessness. And it will be your own damn fault.

I hope to God you realize your own mistake and correct it immediately. Thank you for giving me the most stressful two miles I've driven all week.

Sincerely,

Tere

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Posted by Tere @ 5/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We Like to Relax Together





(and yes, I am reading a catalog that's marketed to teens. STFU.)

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Posted by Tere @ 5/23/2007   | | | links to this post

Page Against the Machine *


One of the things I've been wanting to do to feel more like "old Tere" (or pre-motherhood Tere) is to start reading regularly again. I know, small, simple thing, but between pregnancy and new motherhood, I haven't had the energy, interest or time to read like I used to. Which was voraciously. Like, 3 to 4 books at a time, each a different genre, each one completed within 2 weeks.

So I figured a good place to start would be a book club, since the added bonus would be that I could get out of the house and get all literary and scholarly and maybe a little buzzed with some (hopefully) nice, funny people. One of my sisters was in the process of forming a new book club with her friend J (mad drama at the old club, who would've thunk it?), and invited me to join.

We met last night for the first time to discuss Water for Elephants, and man, it was great. The highlight of my week (take that for what it's worth). Books and Books went all out for us; we had reserved the Antiquarian Room, which to us meant "a table and chairs", but we arrived to find a long table covered with a table cloth (a cloth table cloth), silverware, wine glasses, even flowers in vases. Holy shit, book club meetings are serious business around here.

So yeah, we discussed the book: blah, blah, circus life was really rough and dirty yet had an order to it... blahbity, blah, animal cruelty but those who worked directly with the animals weren't abusive... blah, blah, schizophrenia wasn't a diagnosable disease in the 30's... blahbity, poo, poo, pah, great story, but lots of gimmicky crap and plot contrivances... blah, blah, blah, let's eat cotton candy and animal crackers!

One of the girls brought some circus-related decor and treats (as did my sister; I didn't know you could do that), and we had a good time feasting on those and cracking jokes at some of the things the book made us think (and therefore, talk) about.

All in all, a success. Glad I did this. I'll be working on relaxing and not stuttering and feeling so socially awkward for next time. But I've figured that once I feel comfortable and warm up to everyone, there'll be no shutting me up. So this time of quiet and shyness on my part is really a gift to everyone.

Next up: A Thousand Splendid Suns.


* That's the official name of our book club. Registered and everything. I'm sure we could be nerdier than that, but I doubt it.


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Posted by Tere @ 5/23/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Best Music You've Never Heard

So hey, now that I'm a music industry big wig, I'm qualified to tell you all about the best music out there.

Ha!

O.k., seriously.

Now that I work in the music industry, I get exposed to all kinds of artists on a daily basis. Over the last few months, I've found some music that just rocks; and now, you lucky readers will get to find out about these cool artists, too.

(Please note: if you click the link and visit their pages, the music player is on the right-hand side; click on each song to hear it.)

So first up is Fulano, who besides being the only independent Hispanic artist to be nominated for a Grammy - twice - is a totally great guy (real buena gente). He's incredibly talented and writes all his songs, and basically, they're genius, complete with insightful lyrics. Must listen-to track: Olvidaré.

Tango36 is a great local rock band. I've known the lead singer for like nine years now, and I'm happy to see how far he's come with this project. Tango36's music is a great mix of original lyrics and excellent music, along the vein of greats like Mana. Must listen-to track: Vaquero.

And finally, there's Monte*Rosa. Originally from Colombia, based in Miami, and totally awesome rock and roll. Like Tango36, another great Spanish rock band. Must listen-to track: Mi Cielo Perdió un Angel.

Right now, my company focuses on Hispanic-American music (and that means anything heard in Latin America, the U.S. and Spain), but since our demographic is, uh, ourselves (foreign-born, U.S.-raised or born in the U.S. to Hispanic parents), the longterm plan includes adding English-language artists. And due to some deals we're striking with the major record labels, we're currently the only website out there where you can find the complete music catalog (and lots of videos) for artists like Mana, Alejandro Sanz and Luis Miguel (it's free; you stream the content, not download it; you can create and customize your own play list; and when V1.5 comes out next month, everything will be cooler, slicker and way more user-friendly); oh yeah, there's also all the other 4,000+ artists who've joined us.

Whew, back to our regularly scheduled program. The three musicians I singled out are really talented, creative artists who are creating some really awesome music. So check 'em out and then come back and thank me for expanding your musical horizons.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/22/2007   | | | links to this post

Florida Immigrants Not So Crappy After All

Found this study about FL immigrants very interesting... in the Herald's well-written breakdown, the most impressive findings, for me, were that

Immigrants living in Florida are as likely to hold an advanced college degree and more likely to be entrepreneurs than their native-born counterparts

and
Foreign-born Floridians, who make up nearly a quarter of the state's workforce, also receive less public assistance and government healthcare benefits than their native-born neighbors


The myths that are busted (immigrants are lazy, uneducated, don't pay taxes, etc.) are things I've long known to be untrue. Still, it's nice to have an official study document and confirm it.

I'd love to see a similar study on immigrants in other states and see how they compare and contrast.

And that's your educational post of the day!

****************************************************************

SOTP's take on the report.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/22/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, May 21, 2007

Worrying as a Relative Thing

I have to tell you, despite my being a totally anxious worrier, who can't imagine going through life without imagining every. possible. scenario. ever., I think I've got my priorities about what to worry about pretty straight.

I worry that if I turn my back for two seconds, that will be the moment my son dunks his head in the toilet and drowns.

I worry that there is some deadly disease inside him that will one day come out and destroy him.

I worry about my ability to raise him right.

I worry about all the other things I may not be actively thinking about that I should be, but don't because I don't know what they are.

But I have to tell you, I don't worry about him running and falling. I don't worry about whether he missed a bath or not. I don't worry about all those reports that come out with freaky declarations (TV causes autism, vaccines cause autism, etc.), because if I did, I wouldn't be able to function. I try to just use moderation in all aspects of my life, hoping that the middle road is the safest.

Oh, and I don't worry about the evil messages hidden inside Disney movies.

Worrying is relative (well hell, don't you come to me for these kinds of revelations?). But I'm learning more and more that at least as far as parenting is concerned, what we worry about has an awful lot to do with our place on the social and economic ladder. And seeing as how I'm pretty low (o.k., fine, maybe like around the middle) on that ladder, I don't have the time or financial status that make worrying about Disney feasible.

I was at a kids' party this weekend where some of the parents were affluent, white Americans. They were also a few years older than me, and I felt a bit out of place. At one point, I stumbled upon a couple of the parents chit chatting. One of the boys was dressed as one of the Incredibles, and one of the dads was asking him which one he was, if he liked the movie, etc. It was actually a cute exchange. Until the dad goes, "I know it's a kids movie, but I love it," and one of the moms replied with, "Yeah, but one of the characters tries to commit suicide! All these Disney movies: violence, orphans, suffering. It's just too much. I don't know what to do about this." Well, considering it was her kid in the costume, perhaps she shouldn't let him watch those movies and buy him the merchandise. That might be a good place to start.

Witnessing this exchange, I'll confess, left me with a slight headache from all the eye rolling I did. Where do I begin? On one hand, I can't help but think that there are far greater things to stress about than Disney movies. Second, if you're so inclined to worry about Disney movies, that's fine, but then don't let your kids watch them, and certainly don't buy them all the related merchandise. Third, am I mistaken and naive in my belief that Disney movies are fairly benign and that the "violence and suffering" presented in them aren't done in a gratuitous way? And that there's nothing "bad" about exposing a child to concepts like abandonment, loneliness and alienation?

Now, I'm not a Disney fan. I currently have no plans to buy my child(ren) all the movies and buy them all the crap that comes with them. But am I "against" them? No. I'm not going to care if Max is gifted any of the stuff. I have an overall thing about not allowing my kids to ever have too many toys, but it's not specific to Disney.

But back to my "worrying is relative" thing. Is it? Can those of us who are wealthier or who don't have to live paycheck-to-paycheck "afford" to worry about these kinds of things, while the working stiffs and poor among us cannot? Keep in mind, while this exchanged happened between affluent Anglos, I don't believe this is a race or cultural thing so much as a financial/social one. I honestly do wonder. I mean, if you have to work 65 hours a week just to makes ends meet and so don't have a lot of time to spend with your kids and they're alone a lot, and you live in an urban (or "not safe") setting, is it fair to say you might not give a damn about Disney movies but would give many damns about drug dealers getting to your child? And yeah, all parents worry (or should worry) about drugs, but is the possibility more present for some than others?

Another thought I had during this exchange was one that I confess to having many times: "Eso es cosa de Americano" - "That's an American thing". I don't know how true that is, but just like I spent a childhood feeling that "Americans" (white Anglos) lived on a different plane than my family and community (a plane that was by turns truly fascinating and utterly ridiculous), I now find myself feeling the same way about "American" parenting (the ear-piercing post is a good example of this). The positive aspect is that I'm constantly learning; and since I believe I'm fairly open-minded, I think I'm receptive to new ideas and rituals and ways of thinking. The negative aspect is that when something strikes me as silly or odd, it's easy to say "Eso es cosa de Americano" in a very dismissive, scornful way, so that the interpretation is less "Hey, look, another cultural difference! Interesting!" and more "These people are on crack". And honestly, when this lady was going off on Disney, it was more along the lines of "how ridiculous" than it was on making an observation about culture and socio-economics and blah, blah, blahbity-blah.

So I see two issues here: the worrying-is-relative-to-financial/social-status theory, which for me, is true of most cultures (including my own - I've seen plenty of Cuban-Americans being just as "ridiculous"); and on a more personal level, my "struggle" with the feeling/idea that being bilingual and bi-cultural offers a very different (sometimes positive, sometimes negative) perspective on how "white people" live and parent. And I use the term "struggle" because I hate it when I tell Ben "eso es cosa de Americano" when he reveals yet more shit I have no clue about. And what I hate is both that familiar feeling of being a stranger in my own land and also feeling critical about it. Critical, perhaps, as a defense mechanism? I'm not sure. I certainly mean no ill will by it, yet I can't deny that there are some things about white American standards and practices that I just don't get. That is neither good or bad to me, it just is what it is, a by-product of my life's circumstances.

Of course, everyone else says the same thing about Cubans (and African-Americans and Mexicans and Asians, etc., etc., etc.), right? So maybe ultimately, in that regard, it's an even playing field.

Or so I'd like to think.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/21/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday Morning



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Posted by Tere @ 5/19/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Curious Case of the Evil, Ear-Piercing Cubans

I read a post on another mommy blog today about ear piercings on babies and how incredibly awfulawfulawful they are. The comments on said post were just as dramatic, comparing ear piercing to genital mutilation and stating that to pierce for cultural reasons is bullshit (one comment in particular said that) and pretty much relegating toddlers with pierced ears to the category of daycare whores.

Oh please. PLEASE. My eyes hurt from rolling. I mean, it's only earrings, there's nothing special about that. Be against it if you want to; to each his own, you know? But this level of drama is just plain silly to me. What is the big effen deal here? Ear piercing is nowhere near the realm of genital mutilation. Why? Because intent plays a role here. The purpose of female genital mutilation is to subjugate them and desensitize them. The purpose of ear piercing, while frivolous to some, is hardly akin to a horrible, humiliating, dehumanizing act. Also, big difference between ear cartilage and a vagina.

Is it unnecessary? Sure. Is there an allergy risk? Sure. Will your daughter decide she hates earring and not wear them "when she's old enough to decide"? Maybe. But trauma on the grand scale that's being claimed? Coming from a culture with a long tradition of infant ear piercing, I can all but guarantee you that the answer is "no". In fact, we do it early because that way there's less chance of infection and it will heal quicker (plus, no pulling). And yes, we go to a pediatrician to do it because it's way safer than the mall (and so is it acceptable for me to call you white trash for taking a child to get pierced by a 16-year-old at the mall?). Like, that's it. It's not some grand, flashy, "look at my pre-beauty contest baby" gesture.

And to answer the cries of, what kind of cruel, selfish, ridiculous parent does such a thing to their baby girl?! Uh, my parents. All my aunts, uncles, cousins, friends' parents. My sister. Me, if I ever have a daughter. I know, hang us. Send us back to Cuba on the boat we rowed in on.

I honestly understand why other people might not "get" this, and why someone would choose not to do this to their daughter. But I think it's disrespectful and insensitive to make judgments about the kind of parents people may be based on whether or not they choose to pierce their daughter's ears, which is what some of this reeks of. I mean, come the fuck on.

But my primary reason for writing this post is the notion that "cultural reasons is BS". Says the American! That was not the prevailing tone of the comments section, but it stuck out enough to grab my attention and steam me up some. That tone clearly implies that unless a tradition is acceptable by white American standards, it's crazy, or heinous, or unimportant, or worthy of derision by default. This may come as a newsflash to some, but white American sensibilities are not the authority or final word in this country anymore. Furthermore, if someone follows a tradition out of respect for their culture, just because you disagree or don't understand it doesn't give you a right to call it bullshit. Maybe "different" or "interesting" or "I don't get it, but as long as no one gets hurt, it's cool". But not "bullshit".

That kind of arrogance (as my beloved PCD would say) just chaps my ass.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Ta Da!

New template! Which looks just like the old one! But better! And prettier!

As you can see, the changes are subtle (except for the title), but since I'm now a "brand", or so I fancy myself, I wanted to stick to what's become my "look".

Much thanks and love to LunaStone Designs for coming to my rescue!

(And to Joke for the recommendation).




Posted by Tere @ 5/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Cheesecake is Good

It's been a very dramatic week around here, hasn't it? I thought we all deserved a nice break. Featuring Max, of course.

We celebrated Ben's birthday last week with some key lime cheesecake, which Max tasted for the first time.












I think he liked it.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Market Research

While we all eagerly await the arrival of my new (purttier!) template, I want to turn the focus on to YOU.

I've been thinking that I reveal a lot about myself here, which I really do enjoy, but... I wonder who you guys are. Are you parents? Single? What are your hobbies? What part of the country do you live in? Got any neat skills or talent?

I'd like to know something about you; whatever you want, just something you'd like to share with me.

So how 'bout it, my dears? Help me know you better!




Posted by Tere @ 5/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Oh Hell (Updated)

It looks like the site that was hosting all the backgrounds and images for my template went caput, and I have no way of contacting the guy who created this design for me.

Thankfully, you can still read the content, but this site really looks like shit.

I have no solution, as I know nothing about creating a custom template. So please bear with me while I have a mini-meltdown and then figure out what the hell to do to fix this.

*****************************************************************

Looks like everything is back up, which is nice and all, but I'm going through with my new designer. Don't want to risk this happening again.



Posted by Tere @ 5/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Paranoid Parenting: Say Hello to the Poster Child

My latest post is up at GNMParents! Go read it!

Here's a taste...

I’m too paranoid and anxious for my own good. For Max’s own good, actually. My greatest struggle as I try to “raise him right” is learning to rein my anxiety and downright paranoia in.

Continue...

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Posted by Tere @ 5/16/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More on Loyalty/Disloyalty and Judgment

Naturally, putting my thoughts to (virtual) paper yesterday opened up Pandora's box for me. And the more I've thought about this, the more I realize that this situation is deeper than loyalty for me.

One of the recurring issues I've had to deal with is whether my treatment of Eva has been judgmental or not. I've vacillated between thinking I wasn't judgmental to thinking I was and feeling like shit for it; and now I feel like I was judgmental and that's o.k., because some situations call for judgment of some kind, and being judgmental isn't inherently a bad thing.

Here's the thing: when I saw what Eva did to Amy, it deeply shook my view of who I thought she was. Because of my feelings about loyalty and "the code" and my notions on what it means to be a real friend, I really didn't want to see Eva as someone who was capable of being "like that" with her friends. And in my constantly pushing my opinion at her, questioning her, asking her to "explain herself" and the hows and whys she did what she did, I have realized that I was looking for a way for her to redeem herself. Not that I felt she had to redeem herself for me, but if she could have felt horrified with herself, if she could have seen her lapse in judgment, if she could have dumped the guy and busted her ass to make things right with Amy, I would have been able to believe in her, in her sense of loyalty and in her ability to be a real, good friend.

I said in my last post that this wasn't about whether Eva was a good or bad person, and it isn't; but it is about whether she's a good friend or not. As I just said, while I've worried a lot about my being too judgmental with her, I now feel that some things, by their very nature, ask to be judged, and should be judged. This is one of those things. One of the things that Eva would say a lot to me was this situation did not say anything about her; I disagree. Our actions (and inactions) say a lot about ourselves, whether we like it or not. If we are willing to do a particular thing, whatever our reasons, we must be willing to accept that those things, and how we handle them, will be judged or at least used as a basis for others to determine what kind of persons we are.

That doesn't sound overly complicated or unreasonable when I see it written like that. And I am convinced that on some level, Eva knew this, given the way she would frequently tell me that she didn't want me to think she was "that kind of person" who would do "something like this" to me. And yet, if she could and did do something like that to Amy, who was like a sister to her, who had been through everything with her over the last 15 years, what hope could I have had for myself? Why would I, who had lost touch with her in high school and had been back in her life only in the last few years, fare any better?

I've also come to realize that while I did not carry out this prolonged judgment on her (as she accused me of doing), once I had made my initial judgment and realized that things were they way they were, I began to disengage from her and her life. When she accused me of "sitting there and judging" her, she was wrong - not because I hadn't judged her, but because I had long since stopped caring. In her typical self-absorbed fashion, what she called my judging and avoiding her, etc., was really me living my life: being busy with a new job, planning our move, dealing with Max's recurring ear infections. In hindsight, what does it say about a person who never stopped to consider what might be going on in my life that made me less available? Or who constantly made this issue - even though we had long ago agreed to disagree and leave it be - THE topic of conversation? Why keep bringing it up when she knew how I felt and that I was just going to repeat the same thing over and over again, leading to tension and discomfort?

But to go back to my statement that I had long since stopped caring. I had. Between the constant drama and my adjusting to motherhood, at some point, I was just done (please bear in mind that I was coming from dealing with numerous other Eva dramas that always took center stage over everything else, becoming the principal topic of conversation once all pleasantries were over with). And the more I think about it, the more I realize that my real struggle with the notion of loyalty/disloyalty was with turning my back on Eva when I saw her for who she really was. I was "disloyal" in the sense that I did not stay true to a friend whose character I questioned, who I thought was a bad friend. I was struggling with being disloyal to the IDEA that you stay completely loyal to friends NO MATTER WHAT, even if they turn out to be dishonorable. I think what I've been struggling with is my feeling that I am willing to stay loyal to someone who I can believe in, but that I can't or won't stay loyal to someone who I lose my faith in.

I have been batting these thoughts around in my head for a long time now. Initially, I was resistant to anything that painted me in a "bad" light; but I've had to come to grips with the fact that in some instances, I'm sure I was too harsh and insensitive with Eva. What I understand now is that I was subconsciously dealing with the extreme disappointment and disbelief her behavior caused in me. That's not to say that my words were her fault, at all; just that I could not wrap my head around how she could justify her actions, then claim she was just a peaceful little Buddhist who never caused anyone any harm, then seemingly not at all deal with the consequences of her actions on any deep, meaningful level, then act indignant that anyone would come to any negative conclusions about her or her character over all this. And I handled my incredulousness by being harsher than I meant to be or should have been.

Once I was able to accept that yes, I judged, and yes, I was harsh, it became easier for me to get to the deeper issues, arriving here: my struggle all along has been with feeling like shit, like a disloyal friend, for feeling all the negative things I felt about Eva and concluding that she was in fact THAT kind of person who would do those kinds of things to her friends.

Did that make her a bad friend in every way? No. She was, many times and in many ways, generous and thoughtful. She had a great sense of humor and a hunger for knowledge. Most importantly, she loved my son very much and showed a great deal of interest in and affection for him.

And it is this, ultimately, that makes this whole situation so tragic to me.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/15/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is Disloyalty Ever Acceptable?

What is your definition of loyalty? Specifically, as it relates to your friendships? It's a thought I've had floating in my head since I ended a friendship (or it ended on its own) earlier this year.

In my previous post about female friendships, I alluded both to the friendship that ended and the idea of loyalty. While it was not the main reason, the friendship partially ended over the question of loyalty, and how we each felt the other was a disloyal friend.

I don't want to get into the LONG, drawn-out drama that led to the end, mainly out of consideration to the third party that was involved, but I want to give you some detail so you know where I'm coming from.

My friend (we'll call her Eva) did something I strongly disagreed with: she went after and got involved with her best friend's (of 15 years) ex; like, THE ex, with whom I understand she had an intense relationship of a few years (we'll call that friend Amy). When this happened, Eva maintained that it was fate, that he was her soul mate, etc. What rubbed me the wrong way about this situation was that she was making these claims about a guy she had been IMing and talking on the phone with for literally 3 weeks, which to me sounds like infatuation, not love; and that he was her best friend's ex, a serious ex from a relationship she lived through with her friend.

And I told her so. I told her it was wrong, and that there was a code that you don't go after your best friend's serious ex. While everyone else in her life was cheering her on, I was the one dissenting voice. Her friendship with Amy ended, she dated this guy for a few months, they had a bad break-up, they hooked up again, it ended again.

Throughout all that (during which time I was busy being in the final stages of pregnancy and caring for a newborn), I maintained my stance. While I wanted Eva to be happy, I just felt it was wrong. At one point she told me two things that made me question her concept of friendship, but which I didn't make a big deal about. One was that she didn't follow any such code, that she believed in following her heart, and if Amy had been a real friend, she would have been happy for her. And two, that she would never date any of my more serious exes because I specifically told her that I would end the friendship over it; and that since Amy had never told her any such thing, she had no reason not to.

I should state that part of Eva's argument was that as a married woman, Amy should not care or be bothered by this. But as a married woman myself, I told her that being married or not has nothing to do with it; and that while I had no interest in any of my exes, I would still be bothered by it because if man hurt me and I took a long time to get over him, I really just don't want to see my best friend with him, marriage or not. It's just creepy for a bunch of reasons.

So, the question of loyalty. I believed that Eva was disloyal to Amy by getting involved with a man who had caused her best friend so much pain and drama. I believe that when you're someone's best friend, you don't live through such an experience with them and then find it acceptable to date the guy. I also believe that when your best friend tells you that the guy is bad news and you're going to get hurt by him, that you believe your friend and don't accuse her of being jealous.

A few months ago, though, things took a turn, and this, my friends, is where things get hairy. Part of this situation is that I also know Amy personally. We all have known each other since elementary school, and while she and I didn't hang out or develop a close friendship, we always knew about each other and sent each other greetings and stuff through Eva. I have never had anything against her, and given my stance on this issue, could totally see her point of view. One evening, Eva made a comment about Amy and I having coffee and becoming friends because we had so much in common (she was expressing a fear), and I very flippantly replied that I would have coffee with Amy. She got very upset with me, and I was short with her and said, "If you can date your best friend's ex, I can have coffee with your ex best friend."

That line, however half-kidding I was, did not sit well with Eva, and from that moment (late November) until our friendship ended in February, she kept bringing this topic up over and over again. I can see how my comment upset her, and this comment was ultimately the thing that caused the final blow-up (along with an out-of-the-blue accusation that I was "sitting here and judging" her simply because I had been out of touch for a few weeks; apparently, the fact that I had a new job, an unplanned move and a sick son was no excuse for being MIA).

Here's the hairy part: in the middle of all this, through an unrelated series of events, Amy and I did end up in touch. And we did have a million things in common. We exchanged a few emails about some of these things before Eva came up. Given the situation, we agreed that she as a topic was off limits and kept our communication to the issues that we had been discussing (none of it related to Eva in any way). Of course, I felt very conflicted. I did not want to be disloyal to Eva by being friendly with Amy; yet I had always liked Amy and had "sided" with her throughout this mess, even though she didn't know it. I ended up discussing this with Amy, who understood how I felt and gave me room to do whatever I felt I needed to do.

Just as I was dealing with these feelings, I got the email from Eva that caused the final blow-up. Among all the accusations leveled at me was one calling me disloyal for befriending the girl who hurt Eva so much. Which... what? How did Amy hurt Eva when it was Eva who went for Amy's ex? What really got me, though, was Eva's gall at calling me disloyal when she saw no problem in going for this guy. And I told her just so: this situation presented a conflict for me because of my ethics; but where was the conflict for Eva? How I am disloyal for befriending her ex best friend, yet she is not for going for that guy? By Eva's own ethics, which she repeatedly declared to me, there was nothing wrong with going for an ex of any kind; so what was her problem with this situation? If Amy and I had found common ground on some big matters, shouldn't she be happy for me? I mean, since that was what she expected of Amy when she and the guy hooked up.

At some point in the email exchange, I just had enough. It's much too involved to get into here, but a lot of things about Eva became clearer and clearer to me, and a lot of stuff from the past resurfaced (more on that in another post), and I came to the realization that there was no friendship there to save. Not when I couldn't express my feelings without being summed up as judgmental; not when she was making all the accusations but refused to answer any of my questions; not when I realized that yes, perhaps my befriending Amy was disloyal, but it paled in comparison to her and some of the shit she's done to her friends. And her horrifically self-centered view of life just took its toll on me. So that was that.

My friendship with Eva ending had the side effect of allowing me to continue my growing friendship with Amy without any trouble. Still, that doesn't mean I haven't been dealing with the concepts of loyalty and disloyalty. I certainly don't want to think I'm a disloyal person, nor do I want my friends to worry about me in that way. My friendship with Amy is very real and has become important to me; and contrary to what Eva told me, I have no reason to believe that Amy was/is using me to "get to" or hurt Eva, especially since I told Amy about what happened and she did not take the opportunity to brainwash me or anything. In fact, Amy and I have since had a couple of conversations about Eva, and we haven't talked shit about her or declared her an awful person. We have, however, had a chance to reflect on our situations and how they are similar, which in a weird way has provided some comfort.

I find myself questioning exactly how disloyal I was in this matter, and if there are even degrees of loyalty and disloyalty. And even though I can see why my befriending Amy is disloyal, a part of me can't help but not care because of one very real question: what was I being loyal to? Eva was a good friend in many ways and we shared some great memories, but she was also one of the most disloyal friends I've ever had. There were numerous situations where I felt betrayed by her - small betrayals, but betrayals nonetheless. When I chose to end the friendship, it was ultimately due to my belief that she and I view friendship very differently. And while I spent a good year and a half trying to alternately deal with and ignore it, the fact is that the situation with Amy haunted me. In my eyes, Eva was just flat out wrong in what she did; it was a big betrayal that was worsened by the way she handled the whole thing and her complete lack of guilt and remorse. Part of my larger struggle with this matter has been not allowing this one thing affect the way I see her as a person, but I admit that it's been hard. And it's hard for me to feel torn up about being disloyal to someone who uses the concept at will, to meet her own needs.

Obviously, there's no way I can give you the full scope of this in one post. And while I tried to be fair to Eva, I'm biased towards myself and my take on this matter. Still, I tried to be honest and as thorough as possible and hope it's enough to paint an accurate picture. This post isn't about Eve herself and whether or not she's a good or bad person; it's about loyalty and disloyalty as it related to female friendships. I may have more to say on this matter once I reflect on it some more.

(Click here for Part Two)

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Posted by Tere @ 5/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, May 11, 2007

All Hail Tere the Mother

You see me here quite frequently as anxious and slightly paranoid, over-analyzing and exaggerating (only a little!) things to the point that I sometimes wonder if you're all rolling your eyes at me, because seriously Tere, get a freakin' grip.

That is who I am. I am that anxious and slightly paranoid (some would argue the "slightly" part, too); an over-analyzer who drives herself crazy with the constant imagining of every. possible. scenario.; every. possible. horrible. thing. that. can. happen.

I do spend a lot of my time wondering if I'm being too strict with Max, or too lax; if I'm focusing too much on any one thing and not enough on another; if I really do know what the hell I'm doing or if I'm missing something important.

But the truth is, I'm a damn good mother, and I know it. I'm a damn good woman, and I know it. I'm a damn good human being, and I know it. I'm also the master of Jeopardy, but I don't want to overwhelm you right now.

In my quest to be a better Tere, a better woman, a better mother, I have to stop and acknowledge that I'm o.k. as is, and that I strive for more mainly because it's just my nature to do so. As aware as I am about all my faults and failures, I am just as equally aware of my good points.

I share this with you because I've been thinking about how I sometimes struggle to mesh early-Tere with pre-motherhood Tere with motherhood Tere. I focus so much on the final product (especially the negative aspects of that product) that I don't step back and look at each individual part, particularly Tere the Mother.

Becoming a mother completed a big part of me. While I question my overall "maternalness", big, empty holes I had inside me began to fill with my pregnancy and completely filled up with Max's birth. Those holes are overflowing now. This completion exists simply because Max exists. It doesn't hinge on anything but that. His presence in this world and in my life has made my heart and soul open up, expand, and make room for others. Not just other children, but other people as well. Where I've always had a sense of social justice and an ability to put myself in someone else's shoes, the greater part of my life and psyche has been ruled by anger. And while I've spent many years dealing with that anger and letting it go, it is only with Max's coming into my life that it has all finally begun to come together, and I finally feel like I'm on the right path.

Becoming a mother has allowed me to feel compassion without anger, which is how it used to be. Anger accompanied everything. I still have surface anger and frustration, the bursts of temper brought on by driving in this town or things that I feel are unjust. But it's the deeper anger, the one whose roots lay in my childhood and that coated everything in my life, the "real" anger, that I've been able to place in proper perspective and deal with in a healthy manner. I don't care so much to get rid of the anger as I do finding a way to live with it without it taking over everything and consuming me. And in becoming a mother, I have been finding the ways.

But that doesn't cover who I am as a mother. It's a big part, but not at all of it, and certainly not the part I often ignore in my pursuit of meshing all my selves into one.

Tere the mother is a lot more capable than I give her credit for. She multi tasks, comforts and nurtures, and manages to do it all with a kick-ass sense of humor. She does a good job of not letting the guilt consume her. She's able to stop her own whining and ignore her exhaustion to give her child one more piggy-back ride, one more story, one more cookie, one more cuddling session that includes a lot of boob fondling (you can take the baby off the boob, but you can't take boob-obsession away from the baby).

When I compare myself of two years ago to my current self, I realize that I am now more patient (just a little bit, but it counts!), more confident, more at peace, more grounded, more in tune with myself, more daring, less dramatic (seriously), less selfish, less self-absorbed, less despaired, less depressed.

All because I became a mother. I don't want you to view me as "just" a mother or give me all the stereotypical attributes that society has given us. But I want you to know that I'm one hell of a mother, and damn proud of it.


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!
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Other mothers in the blogosphere are sharing their thoughts on motherhood today; check them out. Courtesy of the Parent Bloggers Network and Light Iris, who are holding a bunch of neat contests.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Announcing: Tere and TheFind Team Up!

Let me just come out with the cool news: you can now shop through my website! Whoot! Thanks to a partnership I've formed with TheFind.com, I've got this nifty marketplace where you can search for and find a bajillion different items. Go ahead and try it!

I'm excited about this; I really like TheFind's clean look and am always pleased with the results my searches turn up, mainly because the results come up as nice big images that include the price and source - in other words, very user-friendly - and they always include at least one or two stores I've never heard of. I had already used TheFind a number of times when they approached me, and it was based on my own positive experience with the site that I decided to do this.

You can search for items using the search bar there on the left (scroll down a bit, it's just below the blogroll), or you can click on "Tere's Marketplace" on my sidebar for my own customized site. In fact, do me a favor and type in something you'd like (wedge heels, pink bunny rabbit figurines, Disney stuff - whatever) on the search bar, and then check out the site that your results open up on - it's SO FRIGGIN' COOL!

Because if I'm going down in a blaze of shopping-addiction glory, I'm taking you with me.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dear Brain, Please Don't Explode

I have my morning routine pretty down. I get into work (where I'm blissfully alone for at least an hour), get the coffee going, and settle in to do my morning reading (a bunch of news outlets and blogs). I love me some coffee with my morning reading.

One of the first things I read, though, is right on my desk: my "Stupidest Things Ever Said" desk calendar, which I SO love. It provides me with a much-needed laugh. I save the funniest ones (for what, I don't know; I just have a pile of them).

There was no point to what I just wrote. I just needed to write something concrete down before my brain began seizing. I have a bunch of things I need to write (some to meet deadlines, others because I need to get my thoughts down before they escape), and I'm a tad overwhelmed. Too many words, ideas, thoughts and feelings are fighting for my attention in my brain. Right now, the next 6 posts for this blog alone are all written out in my head.

On the one hand, I'm happy to have so much going on in my head. I feel great (alive) when my brain's working, when I'm developing, defining, formulating, connecting and cementing my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. I feel like I am "me", my true self.

But on the other hand, I feel like I no longer have the luxury of deep thinking. I have a habit of getting very lost in thought, of being so consumed by whatever I'm mulling over that I just tune everything around me out. And that behavior isn't really conducive to parenting. I can't both be an attentive, involved, conscious parent and indulge in my thoughts and conclusions about current events or my destiny. I feel like I have to reserve those things for when Max is asleep or away from me; but at the same time, I have to work for a living and help maintain my house (which I currently fail at).

We joke (and sometimes not) in our society a lot about "mommy brain" and how having a kid sucks your brain cells out. And it's true, the exhaustion and attending to a small human being just kills the mind, but I can't help but feel we shouldn't succumb to it. I still love the nerdy me that would get all excited and raise her voice over a discussion about who were/are the best Cuban poets (my money's on Jose Angel Buesa), or about how John Cage influenced Tōru Takemitsu. I miss her an awful lot.

So, I'm trying to find a balance. I want to be able to be "intellectual Tere" and "wonderful mommy Tere" (as well as all the other Tere's) without thinking "my brain hurts" or feeling so exhausted I'd rather just curl up in a corner and rock back and forth. It can be had. I have to believe it can be had; I just have to regain all the skills I've lost (pregnancy and motherhood - or perhaps my own true nature - having made me way more socially awkward and inappropriate than I used to be) and find that place where I can be wholly me without any part suffering too much.

This conundrum may be trying to claim me, but I'm not ready to give in. I hope I never am.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Green Falmingos

This Saturday evening, Rebecca from GreenerMIAMI will be doing a presentation (with other local "greenies") at an event called Green Flamingos. Sounds really cool, check it:


Content:Miami





















So, who's going to babysit Max so I can go?

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Posted by Tere @ 5/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Make Stalking Me Easy For You

I took Manola up on her offer to join Twitter and now you can scroll through my little post-it thingy (there, on the side, under my profile) and see what I'm up to. All those random, meaningless things I don't post about? Now I post about them!

If that isn't a compelling reason to stay here all day long and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, I don't know what is. (Though Twitter seems to be ssslllooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww about refreshing/updating.)

We'll see how long this lasts, but for now, I'm quite amused. If you want to be invited to join, leave me a comment (but I think you might be able to just go in and sign up, and if so and you do, add me if you want to).


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Posted by Tere @ 5/08/2007   | | | links to this post

A Mother's Day Wish

I don't want jewelry (especially none of that heart-shaped stuff), nor do I want a teddy bear (so hate stuffed animals), and I don't want clothes, books, CDs, perfume, or even spa services.

I just want a box of chocolates. A big, 5-pound box of milk chocolate heavenliness. There is no better way to tell me I'm a good, adored mother than to let me stuff my face (and possibly induce a sugar coma) with the utter bliss that is See's Candies.

Better yet, give me a custom mix of nothing but #1 and #37, and I'm set (but #s 3, 8, 16, and 28 would be welcome, too).

O.k., all nonsense aside, I have a confession to make: when I was pregnant, right about this time two years ago, I got a huge, crazy urge for some See's (which is not sold anywhere near me, and for which I blame my friend K, who introduced me to it over three years ago). I was going nuts, fantasizing about this stuff. So I went online and ordered myself like four different items (soft center box, custom box, etc.) - people, I spent like $65 to have chocolate delivered to me from California.

It was the best thing ever.

Speaking of this time two years ago:


Please note how it was obviously time for a new pair of pants.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/08/2007   | | | links to this post

I Finally Got a Break, Sort-Of

I decided to take it as a challenge. This was not to be a weekend getaway to the Keys to celebrate my FIL's birthday. No. It was a test to see how good I've gotten at this "a mom is always prepared" thing. Because if there's something I can be counted on, it's to never be prepared. There's always that one important thing (diaper, wipes, thermometer, change of clothes, medicine, pacifier) that I always, always, always forget. I don't know if it's because we have two diaper bags and switch between them, or if it's because I forget to replace items, or if it's because I'm a total flake. Although, I know sometimes it's because whenever we're running out "for five minutes" we figure we won't need some of that stuff and leave it behind. (Of course, it will be in those five minutes that Max will develop a fever and make lots of caca, and we'll be screwed.)

So this weekend was a test. We were going to be away from home overnight, busy with family activities, and I needed to have everything we could possibly need. So, clothes? Check, like four outfits, plus PJs. Diapers and wipes? We stopped at Publix and bought a pack of diapers and a tub of wipes specifically for the trip. Medicine? Check; Antibiotic, Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl were all packed up, as well as his diaper rash medicine. Food? Check; I tossed fruit bars, crackers, Cheerios and emergency food jars into a bag, and we bought a half-gallon of milk in Key Largo, plus some fruit. Extra stuff? Check; I packed his towel, wash cloth, body wash, sun block, bug guard, extra socks, books, and toys. We also took the stroller and playpen.

I'm happy to report that at no point did I need something I didn't have. There was enough diapers, wipes, food, clothing and entertainment to keep everyone happy. I had it all together. I didn't forget a thing.

Except for my own asthma/allergy medication, which I take on a daily basis. So when the mold in the creepy room we stayed in began to attack my lungs, I thought I was going to die.

Thankfully, I didn't.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/08/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, May 07, 2007

Car vs. Pig

It looks about even...


...but pig loses.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/07/2007   | | | links to this post

I Don't Think This is How "Time Out" is Supposed to Work

Over the last few weeks, we've instituted "time out" in our home. Although I've had misgivings, thinking things like, "But Max is a baby! He's just a year-and-a-half", Ben and I felt that if we went on how cute and adorable and tiny he is, we'd never do it; plus, we know he understands us and gets when he's doing something wrong but keeps doing it anyway. So we instituted a rule where we tell him three times to stop (and try to distract him or get him to move along to something else), and if he doesn't, he gets a time-out.

Now, I know he doesn't "get" time out. I know he's not thinking about how he must be safer or listen to mommy and daddy or anything like that. For me, it's more about consistency and getting him used to the concept that when mommy and daddy tell him to stop or not do something, he has to obey, or there will be some consequence. I've noticed a lot lately how he's testing his boundaries, and I'm just trying to set those boundaries and show him what we will and will not allow.

The thing is, the kid loves time out. LOVES it. When we get to the second "scolding", we warn him that next up is a time out if he doesn't obey. To which he replies "Time out??" and runs to the ottoman (where we normally sit him down) and gets all upset if he can't climb up on his own and asks to be put on the ottoman, half sobbing "time out, time out". Once he's on time out, he sits there very obediently, but smiles and grins and makes faces the whole time. It takes a lot of self-control not to crack up in his face. It's almost like he does know what's going on but has decided to have fun with it.

At this point, we're stuck. Ben and I are both big on being consistent, and we can't send the message that not listening to us is acceptable. And while Max is enjoying time out way too much for our taste, the truth is after time's up, he never goes back to doing whatever caused the time out in the first place (until the next day, that is). I'm trying to view time out as a way to get him to chill out and regroup, but I do feel like I'm being too firm at times, and not firm enough at others.

Part of it is that we need to sit down and really formulate a plan for disciplining him beyond what we've been doing up until now, which has basically been getting down to his eye level, getting his attention, and using a few words to convey that what he's doing ain't gonna fly. That method, however, doesn't always work, which is how we ended up with time out. And from here, there has to be something else (perhaps now would be a good time to pick up a book or something).

I know I'm new to this and am bound to mess up, but I so hate messing up. I vacillate between feeling like he does in fact understand what's going on and being convinced that he's too young to really know. At the same time, what I want is for him to understand that I'm not saying "no" or "stop" because I just feel like ruining his fun or because I just feel like it, but because he's hurt someone or is damaging something. And on top of that, I know I need to give him room to explore and be a kid and have accidents and all that.

So am I right in giving time outs at this point? If not this, then what do I do when eye contact/redirecting doesn't work? What should I expect of him at this age?

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Posted by Tere @ 5/07/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, May 04, 2007

I Envision a Loooong Line for These Classes

How about a little fun, since it's Friday and all? Got this from one of my sisters, and I just want to know: where do I sign Ben up?

Fall Classes for Men at
THE
ADULT LEARNING CENTER


REGISTRATION MUST BE COMPLETED
by Monday, Oct 30,
2007

NOTE: DUE TO THE COMPLEXITY AND DIFFICULTY LEVEL
OF THEIR CONTENTS, CLASS SIZES WILL BE LIMITED TO 8 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM
..


Class 1

How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays--Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.

Meets 4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.


Class 2

The Toilet Paper Roll--Does It Change Itself?
Round Table Discussion.

Meets 2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.


Class 3

Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?--Group Practice.
Meets 4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.


Class 4

Fundamental Differences Between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor--Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.

Meets Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.


Class 5

Dinner Dishes--Can They Levitate and Fly Into The Kitchen Sink?
Examples on Video.

Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning
at 7:00 PM


Class 6

Loss Of Identity--Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other.
Help Line Support and Support Groups.

Meets 4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM


Class 7

Learning How To Find Things--Starting With Looking In The Right Places And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.
Open Forum
.
Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.


Class 8

Health Watch--Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health.
Graphics and Audio Tapes.

Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.


Class 9

Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost--Real Life Testimonials.

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined.


Class 10

Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?
Driving Simulations.

4 weeks, Saturday's noon, 2 hours.


Class 11

Learning to Live--Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.
Online Classes and role-playing
..
Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined

Class 12
How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion
Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.

Meets 4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.


Class 13

How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy--Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You're Going To Be Late.
Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.
Three nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.


Class 14
The Stove/Oven--What It Is and How It Is Used.
Live Demonstration.

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, location to be determined.

Upon completion of any of the above courses, diplomas will be issued to the survivors.


I'll be honest (and also, I don't want him haranguing me over it), Ben really only qualifies for classes 1, 2, 6, and 11. But if there was just one class that he would need to take for the good of his life and marriage, it would be number 7.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, May 03, 2007

NOW We're Talking!

As I've already admitted, I'm not so good with newborns. I know that when I had my own tiny newborn, I had no experience and was naturally going to be overwhelmed. Still, having lived through it and looking back almost two years later, I would still have to say that the newborn stage remains my least favorite one. I don't need to analyze that right now - we all have favorite stages, and for me, newborn is not high on the list.

Pre-motherhood, I used to say I couldn't wait for my kid to be around a year-and-a-half, as that was my (based on nothing but my observation of other kids) hallmark for when things would begin to get fun.

I have not been disappointed. I can finally tell you guys: This is a blast. I'm having fun. I'm no longer like, "WTF am I going to do with this kid all afternoon?" (well, maybe just like once a month now). I'm no longer filled with dread at the thought being home with a human being who does little else than cry, stare into space and refuse to go to sleep. My days no longer feel interminable and stifling.

Max is such a trip. He understands words and some concepts. He repeats things back at you. He identifies things. (He's also fully mobile, which means I'm no longer spazing over whether he might roll off the couch and I no longer have to carry him to get him from place to place. That's a small thing, but believe me, it makes a difference. If it were that in-between stage of learning how to walk but not being very good at it, it'd be impossible to be more than 2 feet away from him). He has just gotten what "yes" (or si) means. I'm fascinated by how he tells me "no" and shakes his head when he's done eating, and how he nods and says "si" (with an adorable lisp) when I ask him if he wants fruit. He administers his own breathing treatment on the nebulizer and hands his mask to me and tells me "all done" when he's had enough (and then I have to fight him to complete the treatment). He's communicating. He's learning. He's funny as hell and cracks me up on a regular basis.

This is it. This is what I've been waiting for since I found out I was pregnant in January 2005.

Up until this point, I've honestly thrilled and marveled at Max's growth and development. I've allowed myself to become enamored with him, to open up and let him into my soul. But I haven't enjoyed a lot of it. I've felt the inconvenience and pain-in-the-assness of it all. Not that I let it negatively affect my feelings or actions, but it was there, it was present in my daily life. The way that having a kid suddenly makes everything a mission affected me deeply. I would drown in a paper cup because oh jeebus, I just could not sit down for 30 fucking seconds by myself. That aspect of becoming a parent has been hard for me, especially since I consciously chose to be the kind of parent who didn't let her baby cry it out or who would ignore her baby's need to be held out of some dumb belief that it would spoil him.

Simply put, I wanted to be there - in every way - for Max. I wanted to hold him and comfort him and cater to him. I didn't believe in training him - he's my baby, not my puppy. I wanted to put the rest of my life on hold and give him priority. I wanted him to know that his needs would be met and that he could trust his parents to respond to him so that now, as we've been getting back to "normal", he has enough trust in us and is well-adjusted enough to go with the flow and is not overwhelmed by it.

But being that kind of parent is an awful lot of work, a lot of it inconvenient. And while I've done it by choice, knowing that it was the right thing for us, that doesn't mean it was easy or enjoyable. So to be here now, with this funny, bright, charming kid who can be a total ham or a total pain in the ass - it's wonderful. I've been craving interacting like this with him, to be able to tell him things and know that he understands (whether he listens to me or not is another matter!). A lot of characteristics that he hinted at as an infant are definitely beginning to really take shape: he is stubborn, dramatic and gets temperamental when denied something. But he's also incredibly affectionate and sweet and thoughtful. He adjusts well to change and enjoys going to different places. If he's tired, it may as well be the end of the world as far as he's concerned.

He's my Max. And being his mom is a blast.



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Posted by Tere @ 5/03/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm Now a Contributor at GNMParents!

Whooooo Hooooo! Say hello to the newest contributor to GNMParents! ME! ME! ME!

Can I tell you how freakin' excited I am about this? SO VERY EXCITED! The GNMParents team has been so great with me - patient, nice, and sweetest of all, very encouraging of my writing. I'm flattered and honored to be part of GNMParents and hope readers enjoy what I have to share.

So, my first post goes something like this:

My parents have a habit of addressing my son in English, and whenever they do it, I get annoyed. “Dícelo en Español” (tell him in Spanish), I say. I know they’re used to speaking a lot of English with their other (older) grandkids, but when I said I wanted Max to be addressed primarily in Spanish, I meant it.

My “group” – first-generation (blank)-Americans, children born in this country to Hispanic/Latin American exiles or immigrants – suffers from a malady that seriously troubles me: we mainly grew up in households where Spanish prevailed, yet we have turned around and not made much of an effort to teach our own kids the language of our parents and culture....

What's that? You want more? Well, hop right over and finish reading my brilliant piece of social commentary. And be sure to leave your own thoughts on the matter!

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Posted by Tere @ 5/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Random Like My Brain

I usually have a running conversation going on in my head. It's like an endless stream of chatter where I discuss (with myself) important things I need to remember, or rehash my current worries, or muse about a large amount of random junk.

It's that random junk I want to share with you. I'm both impressed and horrified by the amount of crap my brain processes in the span of 30 seconds. I wonder if my jumping from topic to topic to topic is a sign of ADD or something worse. I don't know. Maybe it happens to everyone else.

Between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. this morning, I devoted mental energy to the following things:

  • Overalls and how much they annoy me. Especially on pregnant women. It's just wrong, wrong, wrong. Also, that I owned a pair in high school. Given my fashion track record, this is no surprise, but I'm totally ashamed about it.
  • How badly I hate my body right now, and how much that unsettles me. I'm not used to thinking anything about my body beyond "wish my thighs were smaller". But I've had that thought for long now that it's lost any real meaning. I've never thought I was ugly or gorgeous, just somewhere in the middle (plain, really). Perhaps I never thought much about my body because it was a cute one? Having a baby has wrecked me - not in any extreme, but enough to make me feel extremely self-conscious. I have flab now, and 10 chins. Close-fitting tops look like shit on me, and loose ones make me look like a bloated baby whale. I'm not comfortable in my own skin. My metabolism has slowed down. My eating habits haven't changed, I'm actually MORE active than I've ever been, and yet. In fact, I had Ben take some pictures of Max and me (we don't have many together), and I looked so awful in all of them that my eyes filled with tears. And I felt very foolish about it.
  • How I'm close to becoming obsessed with eBay. Again. Not good.
  • How I'm expecting some books in the mail and am SO excited about it (seriously).
  • How one of Ben's ex-girlfriends works with him and I'm mildly annoyed at how she tries to be SO friendly and everything-is-cool-between-us with him despite the fact that she made a total and utter fool of herself over him (long story). I don't know how someone pulls the shit she pulled and then feels no shame over it. I'm not an inherently jealous person, but I can't help but feel that - given this particular situation, where she actively tried to come between Ben and me - she should: 1) Feel like shit for what she did; 2) Feel stupid for being so sloppy and obvious about it; 3) Feel like a fool for acting like an 8th grader; and 4) Feel embarrassed for how Ben cut her down cold. If it were me, I wouldn't ever be able to face the guy again, much less act all "OMG, you're my BFF" with him.
  • How I still have like 5 gift cards to use and have no clue what to get myself. I've lost all enthusiasm for shopping.
  • How I really want to get into gardening but feel totally overwhelmed by it.
  • How we're heading to NYC/New Jersey in November and I'm already in pre-flight scared mode.
  • How I'd love to have my house all to myself for an entire day.


On another note, I've got a surprise for you! Later today! About me and my blooming career as a writer! So come back around 4-ish, please?

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Posted by Tere @ 5/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I confess...

I found out about True Mom Confessions a few weeks ago and began to read it with an almost instant obsession. But I have to confess... I think this site does more harm than good, and I'm done and over it.

This is not a dis to the ladies who created it. It's a great idea, and they've done it in a format that offers true anonymity (as truly anonymous as you can get on the web, I suppose). The problem isn't them or their effort, because as they clearly state on the site, moms need to know they're not perfect, that they're not alone; and I believe that they wanted to create a space where women could feel free to confess without retribution and find that other moms understand.

But I don't think it's panning out that way. The problem, in my opinion, is the users, and the way the site has quickly devolved into a place where women are judging and ripping each other apart. I mean, for a place that's all about reaching out and giving moms a place where they won't feel alone, there sure is a lot of judging and criticizing going on. People react to one judgmental "confession" (i.e., "I think moms who bottle-feed are selfish") by posting their own judgment (i.e., "I confess to feeling that Breastfeeders are such snotty bitches"). (These aren't actual confessions, btw, just a paraphrasing of a bunch of similar ones like these). So they're using words like "I think" and "I feel" to act like their judgmental thoughts are really some kind of confession, when they're not.

Then you get some confessions (that for all I know may be fake) that are so selfish and cruel and unbelievable that other readers end up reacting to them. (And worse is the site's forum, which is really where the shit gets stirred and the trash talk takes place).

And the thing is, I'm no exception. There are some confessions there that make ME want to rip some of those women apart. I'd say a good half of the confessions make excellent cases for forced sterilization. And I can't believe I just wrote that, and worse, that I even feel this way. But I do.

I may not say anything on the site, but I have to admit that there's some shit there that's really hard to read and just move on without feeling some judgment or without thinking that some women are so fucking ignorant and ridiculous and downright stupid. And I just can't handle it. I can't handle thinking these things about other women. I can't handle the judgmental bitch in me that rears her mean head every time I click on this site. It's not right, nor fair, nor does it make me feel good about myself.

Ultimately, my decision to stop visiting the site was based on the fact that any desire I had to laugh or commiserate or "me too" the confessions that I agreed with was far outweighed by the bad reactions I've had to a lot of the confessions. Yes, a lot of the confessions are normal or silly or funny or sad or inspiring - but there are also a large chunk of them that aren't and that take all the fun out of the experience for me.

I don't want to be judgmental nor critical nor hating on other moms. I don't want to take the Internet so seriously that it bleeds into my real life and leaves me pissed off over all the awful things others do to their families. I don't want to read about the mom who vocalizes how much she hates her kids and admits to treating them badly, because those are real kids who are suffering and I can't do jack shit about it. I don't want to read about the woman who's proud that she's managed to keep her illicit affair a secret for 5 years. I am no one to judge them, and I certainly don't invite the thoughts I have about them, but I have the thoughts that I have, and after reading 20 similar confessions in one sitting, it just becomes too much.

Please don't think that I'm against this site - I believe in its right to exist and in its basic mission (and you know, free speech and all that). I just think I reached my saturation point rather quickly, and while I'm not one to live in a fantasy land, I guess I just don't want to read so much negative, toxic stuff every day. I look to the Internet to educate and entertain me, to make me feel connected to others - not to depress me or make me feel all frustrated and critical about people I don't even know. I guess I just don't have the time or desire or mental stamina for it.

So until I can read these kinds of things without being judgmental or without reacting so strongly, I just won't read them.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/01/2007   | | | links to this post