Friday, August 31, 2007

The Latest Addition to the Family

No, no, I'm not pregnant! I know most people associate "addition to the family" as a pregnancy thing, but trust me, when/if that time comes for me, that ain't how I'm gonna tell you. Actually, I don't know how I'm gonna tell you. As much as I'm pushing myself to accept the inevitability of baby #2, I'm really in denial about the whole thing.

So um, yeah. Anyway.

Meet Mia:


She's cute, right? I agree. She's cute and loving and very funny in all her 9-week-old puppy glory. She's also got one blue eye and one brown one.

And Max - Max already adores Mia:


He wakes up in the morning squealing her name, and I've already had a couple of instances where he's so busy playing with her that I have actually been able to go pee by myself. I know!

Mia, in the five whole days she's been with us, has been relatively easy - although, of course, I have just jinxed us all.

But.

Mia is also a creature I did not want, at least not at this moment. I didn't want the extra work, the responsibility, the emotional attachment. On the days when Ben works, I alone am responsible for both Max and Mia. Max is already quite a handful, and now I have another living being to attend to. I'm not sure how it'll go, since today is the first day I will be getting home from work, exhausted, with a growing to-do list, to face both the puppy and the boy alone. It's not that I don't think I can handle this, it's that I made my feelings very clear, and bottom line: I didn't want this at this moment in my life. And while there's no point whining about it now that it's happening, I can't help but feel what I feel (namely, what the F happened to waiting a year from Zoe's death? It's not like all the white boxers in the world will have run out by then), and basically, I just need some time to deal with it.

And I'm trying. I've been trying. I'll give credit to Mia for (so far) being less of a nightmare than I anticipated, and to Ben for being primary caretaker like he promised to be, and we'll just have to see how it goes from here.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/31/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Bubble Bath

As a child, I loved bubble baths. Specifically, I loved using Avon's Soft Pink Bubble Bath, which to me smelled like comfort and warmth and heaven.

We weren't allowed to have bubble baths as often as we wanted (isn't there some urban legend - or maybe it's true - that too much bubble bath is bad for the private parts??), but when we did, it was like the highlight of my week. I loved luxuriating in the bubbles; covering myself up in them, giving myself funky hairstyles with them; and ducking my head under water. In time, bubble baths came to symbolize relaxation and peace to me.

So imagine how I felt a few days ago when I had my first bubble bath since pregnancy. In semi-darkness. With tons of bubbles and not just the recommended one or two capfuls. Pure bliss, I tell you.

Moments alone are rare for me. For all the partnership that Ben and I have, it's just a fact of our lives that I never have time alone, especially inside our house. Either I'm alone with Max when Ben is at work or out, or we're all home together. For me to be alone, we have to plan it a few days in advance, and usually, it means that I get to do something by myself: a trip to the stores, my book club, dinner with a friend. The only thing I do at home alone is shower (because I can't even use the toilet alone anymore), and those last 15 minutes at most. Being alone at home is just not a part of my life anymore, and I sorely miss that.

On Monday night, I just couldn't take it anymore. My back and legs have been aching a lot lately, and I was in pain, exhausted and in need of some peace and quiet and alone time. So I told Ben, "good luck", and locked myself in Max's bathroom (ours has just a stall), where I filled the tub (after I had removed 7,000 pieces of bathtime toys), poured a generous dose of the yummy Soft Pink bubble bath, turned off one of the lights and settled into a small corner of the tub (our tub looks like this), where my back and neck fit perfectly.

Oh man. To be in the semi-darkness, up to my neck in warm bubbles, with my eyes closed and the rest of the world shut out was a much-needed break. I felt for that while removed from my daily worries about Max and his wellbeing and safety and how good (or not) a job we're doing of raising him. I felt like someone who has time to indulge in these luxurious, private activities all the time. I felt like I wasn't a mom.

I came out of that bath relaxed and content and feeling just a wee bit lighter. And the lesson I learned, my friends, is that I need to do this more often. Not just so that I have a healthy outlet for my crankiness and exhaustion, but also just for my own general wellbeing.

Because that's important, too.

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I found the inspiration for this post here.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/30/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If This is Fashion, I'll Stay Tacky

Listen, people: I make no claims to be on the vanguard of fashion. The truth is, 97% of the time, I hate how I look. Outfits that look cute in a catalog or website or my head look all wrong (the style mainly, and sometimes the fit) on me. I don't know what it is about me, but the sparkling, fashionable Tere the lives in my head never translates into real life. On top of that, I guess you can say I have an unusual taste in clothes, which may or may not be part of the problem.

I do, though, have a knack for styling others. I have an eye for what looks good on people - both in fit and style. If I could ever find my way into that mysterious world, I could totally rock it as a stylist.

My own personal tackiness notwithstanding, I'm a total fashion junkie. I don't read the bible (because to me it is pure crap, and I see very little that's special about it), but I'm up on the latest trends and can sometimes see a trend forming on the horizon. And, because as a child I loved sewing and saw my seamstress aunt at work a lot, I am knowledgeable about fit, fabric, style, etc. As an amateur, anyway.

My fashion struggle lately has been that a lot of trends and styles that I like are being worn by people I can't stand, namely Hollywood "starlets" and reality-TV "stars". UGH. What does it say about me liking leggings and high wedge heels when vile, empty people wear them, too? I mean, you are what you wear, and I don't want to be anything like them!

Yet with all that, there are just some trends I cannot get behind, some that I think are just plain ridiculous and possibly offensive.

For example: dressy shorts. Let's face it: only children under the age of 12 and women who look 12 (or supermodels, obviously, but do they ever really count?) can get away with this look. And, call me old-fashioned, but I see nothing dressy about shorts. In the real world that I inhabit, there is nowhere to wear these to. Certainly not work; and at the grocery store, I may give the old Cuban men heart attacks. At dinner these would make me look all, "whore, how much is that nice Jewish boy paying for your ass?"; and at the park - well, one instance of bending over to pick Max up, and it would all be over. So really, F the dressy shorts.

We already know how I feel about skinny jeans... but damn, this trend refuses to die. I've actually seen some pairs where the leg is a tiny bit not skinny, and it makes a big difference. But the real, über skinny jeans? Still suck.

There are way too many trends for me to report on today, but the main reason for this post is one trend that I find both laughable and insulting: high-waist jeans. WTF? Looky here, people, I am not a fan or advocate of ultra-low waist jeans, and as a someone with a short torso, I am admittedly a fan of jeans that fall slightly under the belly button - but high-waist jeans, before they became this hot, OMG I'm-a-movie-star-too! trend, were known as MOM JEANS, o.k.? Sell them for $300 and throw a pair on Carmen Electra if you want, but they. are. mom. jeans. period. I can't be the only one who's noticed, can I?

I mean, seriously, how is this or this even remotely flattering, much less fashionable?! Por favor, gente. Por favor.


(all images linked to belong to those websites and their owners)

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Posted by Tere @ 8/29/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Damn Those Gay Penguins

(Aside: Before I get into the story of the gay penguins, let me say this: I don't believe in banning books, nor in not making them available in libraries, stores, etc. To me, it's a violation of free speech; and beyond that, calling for books to be "banned" just seems ignorant. Even though I think there are plenty of books out there that are crap - weather they are highly slanted in a direction I disagree with, or of questionable subject matter, or just plain poorly written - but I believe it's wrong to not make them available to those who would find use for them. As a parent, it's my responsibility to monitor the books my kids read; it's not my right to tell other people what their kids should read or to agree to allow books that I dislike to be removed from public access. Just so you know where I stand, 'k?)

Now, about the gay penguins. Wouldn't you know it, they've offended the sensibilities of some fine people who don't want their preshus babies to know about - much less accept - homosexuality. And Tango Makes Three - based on a true story of two boy penguins who adopted a baby (penguin) - tops 2006's American Library Association's list of most challenged books.

I can see why it's so offensive. On the book's cover, you can see that these two boy penguins are not just nuzzling each other, but are also looking at each other in way that clearly says, "I like you in THAT way." And what about the baby penguin? Does he not obviously look like he's right on the road to gaydom himself? We can all blame his dads for that! We have enough homosexuality flung in our faces all the time, now penguins, too? Next thing you know, we'll be telling kids that menstruation is a normal part of life!

We're a month away from Banned Books Week, but why don't do you yourself a favor and peruse the list of the 100 most challenged books - and then read some of them? It's a real eye-opener and, methinks, explains a lot about the state of our country.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/28/2007   | | | links to this post

This is How I Roll

Well first, this is how I used to roll:


(Sorry, it was taken with my cell phone as I not-so-tearfully said goodbye).

Now, I rock the streets of Miami out with this:


It's not very obvious, but she is silver.

Urban mami: too cool for a minivan, too smart for a gas-guzzling SUV.


(It's a joke! Chillax! I truly love all my minivan-driving, gas-guzzling SUV-road-hog readers)

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Posted by Tere @ 8/28/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Car Purchase We're Not Discussing

So hey, does your husband (or wife) totally drive you insane with a particular topic until you're finally a sobbing mess and just cave in to get it all to STOP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP?

No? Just me?

My car, my blue Ford Focus that I purchased shortly after we got married, is a piece of shit. There's no denying it. In hindsight, even with the good deal I got thanks to an acquaintance of my dad's, I paid too much for it. It worked well for a short while before the brakes went out a year and a half after I purchased it. A few months later, the gas pump died, and then months after that, I had to get new tires. When the warranty ran out, it began to develop all kinds of strange noises that could never be identified - and I knew I was on borrowed time.

Still, it was my car. My first brand-new car that I had purchased myself. Plus, it was paid off.

But there was Ben to contend with. Ben, who's had enough bad experiences with no-warranty cars that he's like severely traumatized over it. Ben, who wanted a new car even though his is in perfectly good condition (am I the only one who doesn't decide to get a new car just because I find a model that's "cool"?).

Months of back-and-forth ensued. I could see his arguments very clearly: he's busted his ass for many years and wants to enjoy the fruits of his labor; we can't risk having a car with no warranty; my car sucks.

But I, I just saw dollar signs. I could not handle the burden of another car payment when I'd been enjoying none for a long while now. Also, while I empathized with Ben's desire for a new, cool car, he wanted a gas-guzzling SUV - and I just could not get behind that. I couldn't. And besides that, I felt he was being capricious and was justifying a want by claiming it was a need. I mean, there's lots of pretty things I want, but if it's a strain on our budget, I can't just up and get it, can I? And finally, Ben getting a new car meant that I would have to inherit his car, a car I really don't care for and that would require me to learn to drive stick, which I have no patience for. For me, this was a non-issue. While we were taking a risk in not having a warranty on my car, there was no real need for a new car, and as such, no money was going to be spent on one.

We were at a stalemate - and I was becoming increasingly irritated about the topic, which he would. not. stop. bringing up - until he brought up an argument that was impossible for me to disagree with: our cars are small, and between the stroller and the car seat, there's no room in either one for much else. He was so right. We could never run errands that required transporting anything larger than a shopping bag, and even then, we were limited in amount. Just doing groceries was a nightmare.

So we were in agreement: we needed a larger car. Now he just had to get over the gas-guzzling SUV he wanted, and I had to get over being a cheap jerk.

I slipped into research mode and began a quest for a car with the following criteria: fuel efficient, bigger than a car but smaller than an SUV, and less than $25,000. Because of the budget I imposed, a hybrid SUV was out (the only affordable one is the Ford Escape Hybrid, and after my Ford experience, I can tell you - no more Fords, ever). So that very quickly left one choice: the Honda CRV.

I initially talked to Ben about the car because it met all the criteria (most important to me, it's consistently ranked as best fuel efficiency among small SUVs, and even better, it got more mpg's than my Ford), but I wasn't all that wild about it. Don't know why, just wasn't.

So Ben agreed that it was a good choice, but he also felt that since it wasn't the car he'd been scheming wanting to get, he shouldn't drive it; I should. We had gone from talking and talking and talking about him getting a new car and all the related issues, to me getting a new car.

And here's where Ben totally turned into number one super husband of all time: he sincerely wanted me to have a new car. He dropped the whole "I want my super-cool gas-guzzling SUV" thing and began insisting that I get the car and that I drive it. How sweet is that?

But it gets better. Once I resigned myself to this new financial obligation, we started hunting for the best deal possible. Once again, my dad came through with a hook-up through an acquaintance at a Honda dealership. We liked the terms of the deal and just had to figure out what to expect with my trade-in plus down payment. The down payment worried me, as I hate parting with money from the savings account unless it's an emergency or truly unavoidable. And that's where number one super husband of all time saved the day: he decided to put up his work bonus as the down payment.

Is that generous, or what? Granted, I would have much preferred to use some of the bonus money to have a nice dinner and then save the rest, but under these circumstances, the money came at the right moment.

So, thanks to my husband's generosity, I am now the owner of a brand-new Honda CRV. So far, it's not guzzling gas and it rides smoothly. The amount of room is great. I particularly like the fact that length-wise, it's about the same as a regular car, so it doesn't feel unmanageable. And being higher up is a definite bonus for me, since I'm short and always feel like I can't really see what's around me when I drive.

All in all, I'm a happy girl.

Pics later when I have a spare moment.

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Happy 10th birthday to my wonderful niece, Mags. My little girl's a tween!

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Posted by Tere @ 8/27/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weekend at Fidelino's (UPDATED)

So, as is extremely common here in Miami (especially in the last year, where this rumor now resurfaces once a month instead of once a year), the hot topic right at this moment is Fidel and the possibility that he's dead. What makes this news extra-possibly-real is that it's accompanied by a note that at any minute now, the news is going to break on Cuban TV.

Now, I've been watching Cuban TV for an hour now, and all I've seen is some crap-ass soap opera that I'm willing to bet no one on the island watches.

There are also rumors of local and state law enforcement mobilizing and agencies being "on alert" (here in South FL).

Honestly, I don't know if Fidel is dead (hell, I thought he was dead last year when the transfer of power took place). As it is, this could well be a regime-created rumor to get everyone in Miami all wound up, only to drag Fidel's bony ass out in some revolutionary rally or other, where he'll mutter some bullshit about revolution or death. My greater inclination is to think that when it really happens, they're going to take some time before announcing it and that they won't just announce it - they'll create something around it; and what's more, they could very well prop the old dead bastard up and parade him around, all the while pretending he's still alive and kicking. I don't put anything past the regime, and am inclined to believe that by the time we find out, they would have given themselves enough time to carry out their own post-Fidel plan.

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UPDATE 4 PM: Finally got a hold of my dad. He's spent the last hour on the phone with Vladimiro Roca, one of the most prominent dissidents on the island. Vladimiro resides in Havana and says nothing is going on over there. What's more, he says, he and other dissidents have already been warned by the regime that when Fidel dies, the first thing that is going to happen is that they will all be arrested and put in jail in order to prevent them from speaking or acting out.

I've also gotten confirmation that local police is in fact on alpha/bravo, which leads me to believe that the buzz is too loud (and accurate?) to ignore; but in reality, they probably would rather be safe than sorry.

For right now, folks, status quo.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Hurricane Andrew


I was 15. The night before, I had a good friend's quinces party, and I remember my parents picking me up and telling me Andrew was on the way, and I was like, "what Andrew?"

We lived in Kendall at the time, in a typical community with a lake. I remember my uncle and dad putting boards up against the sliding glass doors (smart move, we wouldn't have lasted without it), but we had nothing else - no shutters, no wood on the other windows - nada.

I don't remember how well-stocked our pantry was, but I also don't remember being hungry, so I guess we were o.k.

We spent the worst part of the storm huddled in one of the bathrooms, the one in the middle of the house, where it was safest, listening to the radio and praying a rosary. The memories I have of the great hurricane that caused so much devastation are a mix of fleeting images and sensations: the moaning of the front door, sounding like it was about to split in two (later we found a multitude of tiny cracks and tears on it); the way the water that filled the tub trembled as objects hit our home and roof tiles came flying off; my utter fear when my dog ran out of the bathroom and into the pitch blackness of our house.

But what I remember the most is the morning after. We were lucky: missing roof tiles, fallen trees and tool shed (and 20+ years' worth of memories) torn to shreds. But our door never flew off; our windows were intact; our roof did not cave in. And our electricity came back two nights later. We were incredibly blessed.

But that morning after, I went with my dad to visit the nuns at the Ermita de la Caridad (where my parents have been very active since it was founded). What we encountered was horrific. The nuns' home was just feet from the bay. Besides finding a 20+-foot sailboat grounded in the church's parking lot, we found that the nuns' home had been all but destroyed. The windows that faced the bay (two sides of the building) were all smashed in, and ocean water flooded the whole place. Everything had been destroyed, from the nuns' quarters to the large communal room that housed all the paperwork and history of the church as well as all kinds of supplies. Everything was lost: papers dating back decades, pamphlets, rosaries, statues, props and costumes from various plays, furniture, equipment, etc. The nuns - all elderly - were both shocked at their loss and grateful for having survived. We spent that morning salvaging what could be salvaged (not much) and cleaning the mess of water and seaweed up.

My high school is located next to the Ermita, so at one point, I slipped over to check the damage out. Three memories stand out: the huge-ass boat that was now docked on our lawn; the way I ran my fingers along the wall of one of the buildings, and my fingers were coated with sea salt; and the fact that - on a lawn strewn with seaweed, torn up benches and chairs, leveled portable buildings and a wide variety of debris - our little fiberglass statue of Mary, Help of Christians remained standing, silent and serene in the glistening sun.

My high school suffered a great deal of damage as well, and we spent my sophomore school year dealing with the effects of the storm: damaged buildings, no A/C, roof issues, etc. We also had the awful "hurricane days" where we'd have longer school days to make up for the ones we lost.

That winter, my drama club went on "tour" - we took our holiday play around the county (you haven't been challenged as an actress until you have to do "Holiday Customs Around the World" in front of hundreds of bored, but wired, kindergarteners). One of the areas we visited was Richmond Heights, an area down south that was severely impacted (basically, destroyed) by the hurricane. In my mind's eye I can see us in the bus, driving down streets lined with rows and rows of what used to be houses but were now mere shells of houses: one standing wall here, a jumble of concrete there. It looked like a war zone.

South Florida has recovered quite remarkably from Hurricane Andrew, but there are still parts of the county, especially in the south where Andrew hit hardest, where evidence remains.

It's hard to imagine just how devastating this hurricane was until you see this collection of images (thanks to SOTP for the heads-up).

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Posted by Tere @ 8/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Randomness in my Brain

Sitting in front of the TV, watching some show on VH1 about teen stars, a bunch of random things are creepin' in my head:

1. I was a HUGE Debbie Gibson fan. Not since Cyndi Lauper did I have such a cool-chick crush on anyone. I used to get home from school, put her tapes on, and sing and dance all through the house. Her songs made me ache with preteen angst, most notably over Danny L, who just would not like me back. Oh, and I had her perfume, Electric Youth. In hindsight, it probably smelled like crap, but back then, I thought I was someone special when I wore it.

2. My Barbies didn't have a Ken doll. They had a Donny Osmond doll, which belonged to one of my sisters (don't know which one), and somehow ended up with me. He was a good Ken because he had dark hair (which made him Cuban, in my eyes) and had arms and legs that bent well. Interestingly enough, unlike Ken, Donny also had a bump in the crotch.

3. Have you heard of Book Swim? OMG - it's Netflix for books! Book nerds of the world, rejoice!

4. We were forbidden from watching The Blue Lagoon when it came on TV. I was like 16 and still apprehensive about watching it, for fear about how my parents would react.

5. I loved River Phoenix so, so much. He was so beautiful, so intriguing, such a good actor. There was something about him that would affect me more deeply than any movie/music star ever has.

6. Kirk Cameron needs to step back from the Kool-Aid.

7. I just remembered that the dress Brenda wore in the 90210 episode where she lost her virginity became an instant classic that every mid-to-low-grade designer and their mother knocked off.

8. Anthony Michael Hall grew into such a handsome man; and for some reason, I'm thrilled he's found steady work and success with The Dead Zone.

9. There was a summer in the late 80's where we ended up with a VHS (no clue how) that had The Karate Kid and Sixteen Candles recorded on it. I watched those two movies over and over and over and over and over again.

10. Scott Baio is a true example of a man whose innocent, childish face belies what a prick he really is. Also, how is he still wealthy? He hasn't worked in like 15 years! And who the F is his friend Johnny V, and how can he afford the Hollywood playboy lifestyle? And how on earth is Jason Hervey his friend?? How did those two hook up? It just boggles the mind.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/22/2007   | | | links to this post

A Week Alone With My Son

This past week, it was just Max and me at home. My husband was on a boys’ vacation, mountain biking in Vancouver, B.C. It’s been a life-long dream of his to bike his version of “Mecca”, and in exchange for our staying in Miami close to family, he now gets to go on a yearly mountain bike trip to somewhere other than Ocala.

Anyway, with Daddy away, Max and I have spent an entire week in each other’s faces....


Are you riveted yet? Find out what deep and meaningful things I learned this last week over at GNMParents.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/22/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Update on my Fatness

So I was going to be all honest and brutal and keep a food journal and then give y'all a run-down of what I was eating and what I was doing to shape my booty back up (or just up). You know, to show my commitment to this cause.

But, OMG. My food journal was an utter embarrassment. McDonald's? Swiss cake rolls? No effen way I was gonna just put that out there for the masses to know. I mean, I was failing miserably and I'd barely begun.

But I got a reprieve yesterday when it became, ahem, evident that I had behaved so beastly because I was having some big-time PMS. Heh. Turns out it was just the wrong week for me to start such a project.

So! Renewed efforts! Maybe! Not so sure I can do this! This week is so hectic I'm not going to be able to get to the gym, so I'll try doubly hard to eat well.

My goal is to post weekly updates on my progress, but if it bores even me, it may be further spaced apart.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/21/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, August 20, 2007

Earthquakes, Broken Bones and Poop - Lots of Poop (UPDATED)

I don't even know where to begin. My week was going merrily - if exhaustingly - along, when it all crapped out (literally) by the weekend.

By Friday, we knew my sister and her family were in Lima and would be able to get back to Miami on Saturday. We had no details beyond that.

Saturday rolls around all hot and sticky, and my friend C and I decide to take Max to Jungle Island (quick version of my opinion: perfect size, not too big, not too small. But not worth the $30 admission fee). By the time we leave a couple of hours later, I get the feeling something's wrong with Max, and it's not just the heat. He passes out in the car, and continues his nap when we get home. When he wakes up a couple of hours later, he's burning up. And I realize that I've just changed my fourth poopy diaper of the day, and that his poop was - gross, of the diarrhea variety. Even so, he's running around and partying like usual, so I don't really think much beyond, "probably a small virus".

Later that afternoon, I'm due in Broward for a visit with the in-laws. Afterwards, I'm supposed to swing by my sister's house for the big "welcome home" pork dinner. By the time I get in the car at 3:15 p.m., I've had about six poopy diapers, but his fever is gone and he is behaving normally.

And then.

We're on I-75, whizzing along with everyone else, when I glance at him through the rear view mirror and see something out of the corner of my eye. What I see is vomit projecting out of my son's mouth. A lot of it. By the time he's done a few minutes later, he and his car seat are covered in puke.

My poor, poor baby. I pull over to the side of the highway (terrified I'd either be slammed by any one of the cars doing 90 or that some axe murderer would creep up behind me), and proceed to clean. Thankfully, I had recently purchased a big pack of wipes for the car (tip: always carry a big pack of wipes in your car!). Maxi was such a quiet, patient little thing while I stripped him down, wiped him up, and did what I could do clean his seat.

At his grandparents' house, he was back to running around, pausing every hour or so to announce, "Mami, caca!" By then, I've wised up to the deal and am sticking to bland foods, hoping he doesn't puke again. By the time we're supposed to go to my sister's, I'm burnt out, Max is tired, and oh yeah, they're not even home yet. So we head home and call it a night.

Almost, anyway. When Max goes down, I log on to check my email. As I'm doing so, I get an IM from Ben. Because Ben has spent the last 8 days in Whistler, B.C. mountain biking with some friends. So I've spent a week playing full-time mom, full-time housekeeper and full-time employee, and by Saturday, I don't think it could get worse. (I hadn't said anything publicly about it for fear of broadcasting that I was alone at home and therefore setting legions of rapists and murderers on a rampage after me). It's at that moment that Ben informs me that he took a "spill" on his bike and has twisted his ankle. Oh, and his ribs hurt. He's not sure what exactly is going on, but he's pretty sure "something's broken". So on Monday, when he gets home, I need to take him in to the hospital, 'k?

So Sunday hits and Max is now pooping about once every 45 minutes. My poor boy. At the same time, I figure out it's not a virus; it's most likely his molars (mainly due to the swollen gums I suddenly notice). He's still his cheerful self, running around my parents' house while I get the low-down on what happened in Peru.

The short version: they were in the area of Pisco (but not in it) on an excursion when the earthquake hit. They were actually in a bus, and at first didn't realize what was going on. When they return to their hotel, they see a big-ass wave heading their way. So everyone scrambles back into the bus, freaked out over the big-ass wave that's about to crash into them. In a scene straight out of a movie, there's the bus and other people running from the big-ass wave, but it seems like no matter where they go, the wave is heading for them. The wave hits, the hotel gets about 10 feet of water and is damaged (lobby caved in, columns crashed down) and there's no electricity. Fast forward to the drive to Lima: deep holes all over the road, plus a 10-hour odyssey that took that long because they had to cross a bridge where only one car could go at a time. All in all, a very stressful time, but the kids are o.k. They didn't see anything actually crumbling before their very eyes, which helps. (note: my details may be slightly off, since I got this via third party, but that's the gist of it: some frightening moments, lots of stress, but all's well in the end).

By Sunday evening, here's where I stand: sister and family are o.k., baby has pooped (no joke) about 20 times (no more diarrhea, but still, this is a problem. He's cheerful and playful and staying hydrated, but this is still a problem), and husband's status is questionable, as he's drowning in self-pity and has only informed me that the day I took off to relax and be with him will now be spent in a medical facility. Great. And about the pooping baby? I'm aching for him and doing what I can to comfort him, but am sure that if he continues this way much longer, I'm running to the hospital.

Monday morning rolls around and Ben is nowhere to be found. I convince myself that his plane crashed, and since it was an overnight flight and I refuse to turn the TV on, it makes total sense that I haven't found out yet. He was due at 6 a.m., and by 8 a.m., I give up and get Max in the car to take him to daycare. Max has already pooped once and I'm tense and stressed out. As we're pulling back from the driveway, there's Ben and my dad. I'm actually slightly annoyed that the plane didn't crash, because my nerves are frazzled and really, no one could pick up the phone and call me?

We spend all morning at an urgent care center, where everyone is nice. Turns out nothing's broken, just badly bruised. In the afternoon, I call Mimi for a report, and I learn that he pooped three times in the morning, but hasn't gone in the afternoon. That's better news than I'd hoped for.

So now, now it's Monday night. Ben is limping around and isn't really able to do as much as he normally does. Max has pooped just once, much to my relief. There is a little nub of a molar on his lower jaw. I am beyond dead tired. My house - the one I managed to keep nice and neat for the better part of a week - is now a hellacious mess. I feel like I need another day off to recover from the last three days.

But it's not gonna happen. Tomorrow, tomorrow I just start all over again.

Dear God, mami needs a very long nap. Please give her a break.

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

Uh oh, people. Ben is in worse shape than we (I) thought. He got a call from the urgent care center today: turns out he has two broken ribs! When he was discharged yesterday, the doctor had told him she didn't see anything in the x-ray, but warned that the radiologist hadn't given an official word yet and that they might call back with a different diagnosis. And they did. Poor boy has been in a ton of pain, which I couldn't fully understand based on the original diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there's nothing (beyond wearing a bandage) you can do for broken ribs; they heal on their own, but it's a bitch in the meantime. On the bright side, he's had broken ribs before, so he's an old hand at this.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/20/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, August 17, 2007

Now Comes Action (UPDATED)

The death toll in Peru has surpassed 500, with more than 1,550 injured. The town of Pisco, where the quake hit, is said to be in ruins.

We have had no news from my sister since yesterday afternoon. Last we heard, they were going to head into Lima to try to catch a flight home, and that both water and food were scarce.

As the people of Peru now struggle to bury their dead and rebuild, I think it's a good chance for us to lend our support in whatever way we can.

Below is information about donating supplies or money to assist in relief efforts. The need is for non-perishable food, clothing, blankets and basic-need items.

I'm thinking this is a good moment to step away from our hectic, self-absorbed lives and do something (however small) for those who have been devastated by this tragedy.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY

Restaurant La Flor de la Canela, Las Americas Shopping Plaza, 11865 SW 26th St. (Coral Way), Store J-1.

National Aviation, 14980 NW 44 Ct., Opa-locka

Corpus Christi Church, 3220 NW 7th Ave., Miami

Unity Coalition, 45 NW 27th Ave., Miami

BROWARD COUNTY

St. Boniface Church, 8330 Johnson St., Pembroke Pines

San Isidro Church, 2310 Martin Luther King Blvd., Pompano Beach

2423 Harding St., Hollywood

6517 Taft St., Hollywood.

ELSEWHERE

League of United Latin American Citizens Florida aid sites:

Paracas Restaurant, 3602 North Armenia Ave., Tampa

Machu Picchu Restaurant, 3861 Tamiami Trail East, Naples.

The American Red Cross is accepting contributions. Call 1-800-733-2767 in English and 1-800-257-7575 in Spanish.


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

UPDATE: My sister and her family are in Lima. They expect to be back in Miami tomorrow.

Posted by Tere @ 8/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Distraction

We heard from my sister in Peru: the road to Lima is open, and they will be part of some car caravan heading back in to the city sometime this afternoon or tomorrow. From there, they should be able to get on a flight back home, since the airport is open and flights are leaving.

My stomach has been in knots all day long, but this piece of information really helps. Now, I don't know about you, but I could totally use a distraction.

So, tell me, what do you think of the current baby-naming trends? Are people trying to "brand" their babies by selecting uncommon (ridiculous, I would argue) names? That's the topic at "Kidz Today" over at Crucial Minutiae, and I already piped up with my two cents. Go add yours!

And.... it seems my boy is developing an, um, interesting sense of fashion. He found this item in my bathroom a few days ago and now spends every waking moment at home with it on.




Oh, and good luck to those of you in Texas who are currently *weathering* (HAH!) Erin's advances!

Posted by Tere @ 8/16/2007   | | | links to this post

I'm Worried

I've woken up this morning to the news about the big earthquake in Peru. Right now there are 337 dead and 1,350 injured.

Beyond how awful this is in general, I am especially distraught for one big reason: my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew are currently in Peru.

We know they survived the quake, but they are in the region where the epicenter was located. They made it back to their hotel, where there is no power (obviously). Roads have collapsed and/or are shut down, including the one that would take them to Lima. Right now, they're trying to see what they can do to leave the country and come back home.

So, we're lucky. They survived, where hundreds have not. But my family is obviously worried and praying that they can stay safe and make it back soon.

Posted by Tere @ 8/16/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix

All I have to do is enter a church, and everything comes back to me. All the prayers, the songs, the entire ritual of the Mass, word for word. I can recite the entire Mass in both Spanish and English - force of habit, I suppose. And yet I'm constantly surprised whenever I walk into a church after a long time away and find myself automatically reciting along with the priest - word for word, my tone matching his.

Being inside a church and participating in a Mass floods my mind with memories. It is what we did every single Sunday (with some rare exceptions) until I was about 14 years old. And by then, I was attending a Catholic high school; so while I didn't make it to Mass every week anymore, I still had Mass at school and a host of religious activities to keep me busy and well immersed in all things Roman Catholic.

These memories are a jumble of images and sensations from my childhood: the smell of my mother's perfume as I rested against her chest; pinching and poking my sister; the looks my mom would shoot us, until we were finally separated; the way we always left each other for last during the Sign of Peace, and still do; the mean priest at St. Robert Bellarmine who would yell the entire Mass and scold parishioners; the voices of various choirs rising high, filing the cavernous hall; the lyrics of many of the songs, so beautiful and touching; the particular smells of each church; the relief and excitement I'd feel as the Mass drew to a close.

All these memories - they both comfort me and fill me with an indefinable ache. I have never particularly liked Mass -it was, at least until I got into high school and could play a more active role (and the good Salesian priests provided relevant, meaningful sermons), a chore - and a boring, dreadful one at that. And yet, I could see a certain beauty and mystery in the rituals, if nothing else.

How strange that I feel comforted now thinking back on those days. Maybe because it was a ritual in my life, and the ritual was itself one big ritual. Maybe because for so long I was so active in so many aspects of being Catholic that they make me feel grounded and secure. Maybe - I'm not really sure.

But the ache is there, too, undeniably. Because I am no longer a part of that world. I have never followed or bought into a lot of aspects of Catholicism, the parts that were clearly made up by man but had little to nothing to do with true faith. Even so, I was still able to find a sense of community, and I was able to capture the spirit of Christianity (or rather, of Christianity at its best, which is basically any faith system at its best). Watching what's become of my Church, and watching it continually regress into dogmas and absolutes and act in ways that are archaic and, quite frankly, irrational, un-Christian and lacking in compassion, hurts at times. Because I am still mystified by the rituals; because I still see beauty in much of it; because I remember how warm and safe it made me feel when I all I knew was the good of it all.

It makes it hard to believe sometimes. It also makes it hard to separate the *administration* from all the good, hard-working souls who are true living examples of selflessness and brother/sisterhood.

And most painfully, it makes it hard to figure out how to teach your son to respect and know and appreciate the rituals and the spirit of the faith without being tainted by the rest of it.


add to sk*rt

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Posted by Tere @ 8/15/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chronicle of a Diet Foretold

Oh, I know. A basically skinny girl like me whining about her weight is probably, like, go die, bitch territory for some of you. I understand, and I don't blame you.

That said, I'm going to go ahead and whine about my weight gain.

Fifteen pounds. That's how much more from my pre-pregnancy weight I weigh. It's not so bad, right? Except that about a year and a half ago, I weighed less than my pre-pregnancy weight. It was mainly due to the the wonder of breastfeeding, to be sure, but still.

The current weight gain is due, in large part, to my stress/misery over my problem. I've noticed how it affects my appetite, the way I feel stressed and instantly crave either something really salty or really sweet. It's bad. Add to that a noticeably slower post-partum metabolism, and I'm screwed.

The problem is that any weight/body issues I've ever had have been more along the lines of "do some lunges and squats" variety, as opposed to the "hold off on the twinkies, honey" kind. Because I've had reactive hypoglycemia for the better part of my life, I'm used to eating well, with only minimal splurges (reserved mainly for weekends, because, I don't know, weekends are special and I should be allowed some pizza and cake). So what I've got going on now befuddles me, because it feels beyond my control. The cravings practically kill me.

And it's become a real problem for me - shallowly enough - because of the way my clothes now fit (or don't fit) me. I hate getting dressed now because nothing fits properly or looks good on me. I'm uncomfortable in all but two pairs of jeans, and one of them is a pair I bought in the weeks following Max's birth. God, that's depressing.

So this has to stop. Before I gain any more weight and before I become a sniveling mess over it. I went back to the gym last month, and much to my disappointment, my stamina is not as good as it should be nor as it has been since I've given birth. I've regressed, which hurts in light of how my body's performance changed in the wake of delivering my boy. Still, I'm going on any day that I am free to (which is like twice a week). On top of that, I'm fighting the cravings with all my might and am making healthier choices when the urge for Wendy's kicks in.

The thing is, I need to be accountable for this. I can't just be unhappy and then leave it in limbo. Making my situation public will hopefully bring me that accountability. Every weekend, I will be providing a status report on this situation - how I succeeded or failed and if I've lost any weight or inches.

One of the thoughts I've had for weeks now, which prevented me from really doing something, was the fact that I intend to get/be pregnant some time in the next year or year-and-a-half - so what's the point? The problem with that attitude is that if I don't get cracking now, who knows how I'll look by the time I get pregnant? And worse, it might cause me to have a more difficult pregnancy or to look 8 months pregnant at the 10-week mark. So honestly, that's just a shitty excuse on my part. I want and need to be at my best health and in good shape regardless of my pregnancy plans; and if I end up pregnant, the better health I'm in, the better that pregnancy will be.

So, wish me luck and help me stay motivated. I need to do this now before it becomes a real, serious problem.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Homemade Baby Food on Plum TV


Local TV station Plum TV (the Miami Beach TV channel and website went up this summer, but they operate in resort towns like Vail, Aspen and the Hamptons) is running a story today about homemade baby food.

When Max transitioned to solids, I made him his first (zillion) batches of food. I bought organic veggies and meats, cooked them, pureed them, then froze them in one-ounce servings. It wasn't as time-consuming as it is sounds - the first huge batch (sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, chicken, ground meat, lentils, black beans, etc.) took an entire day; but after that, it was more about maintenance and making smaller batches. I did that for about six months, when I began to feed him non-pureed food.

Anyway, it was totally worth it for me. I didn't want to just put him on processed jar food (which also cost more), and I have concerns about the pesticides and hormones (and all other crap) found in veggies and meats. Basically, I wanted him to get a good start in his solid-food-eating experience.

So a show like this is something I find useful and informative.

Now, go learn something new for today.

Posted by Tere @ 8/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, August 13, 2007

One Leg at a Time

Our new favorite past time? Attempting to put clothes on.







He's also learned what a moco is, so everything now is all about asking for mocos and checking for mocos.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/13/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, August 10, 2007

Parents Magazine, You Idiots

Oh, Parents Magazine (no link because, F them), why you wanna piss the boobie mamas off? Why are you printing completely incorrect information? Shame, shame, shame on you!

Via The Lactivist:

From the current (August 2007) issue of Parent's Magazine:

THE CLAIM Breast milk is best for babies.

THE TRUTH: Study after study has documented that breast milk can boost a baby's immune system and IQ and lower his risk for diabetes, obesity, even ADHD. So it's no wonder that the AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 mo. after birth. But not everyone is convinced that mother's milk is a panacea. "Most benefits associated with breastfeeding probably have as much to do with the child's environment and the family's socioeconomic status," says Parents advisor Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician's Tour of the Body. "They're not due to some magical substance in breast milk."

THE BOTTOM LINE: Women who want to should certainly breastfeed, but don't feel guilty if you can't.


(Bolding by The Lactivist. Be sure to read the rest of the post, including the very enlightening comments.)

See, here's the deal. This is utter bullshit. This is an attempt by a mainstream magazine (owned by a large corporation) to keep their big formula advertisers happy. This is also about placating the majority of women who choose not to breastfeed by trying to (falsely) convince them that it doesn't matter because formula feeding and breastfeeding are interchangeable.

But they are not.

I know there are many times when breastfeeding is not a real, viable option for a woman. And I'm sympathetic to that. But I also know that many women choose not to breastfeed just because they don't feel like it (a truth covered by any variety of excuses that are just that, excuses). And many times, women make this choice because they read crap like this and believe it. Articles like this just bolster all kinds of false notions that perpetuate a cycle of ignorance and misinformation. It does a disservice to everyone, both moms who breastfeed and those who don't. So, let me make it clear: there is no formula on this earth that can replicate the known benefits of human breast milk. None.

And, as commenters at The Lactivist have pointed out, the ONE doctor to promote this bullshit is a pediatric cardiologist (not exactly a related specialty). What's more, it's obvious he has personal issues with breastfeeding, and they affect his "professional" opinion on the matter.

So it isn't just Parents Magazine perpetuating false information; they also use a highly biased source.

Do me a favor, folks: if you want to know what the real experts have to say about any given pediatric topic, stick with the AAP.

In the meantime, I went ahead and gave this magazine a piece of my mind.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Take a Look Inside my Purse

Saw this at Her Bad Mother and thought it was a hoot.

This is my purse (or rather, the one I've been using all week):


And these are the contents of said purse (click to enlarge):


Let's examine, shall we?

1. My trusty notebook; carry it with me at all times. In it, I write down notes to myself, lists of all kinds, reminders, writing ideas, etc.

2. A random stack of papers. I have one in all my larger purses. It's all the crap I collect on any given day, week or month. In this stack, I can immediately spot a parking ticket, a lotto ticket (STFU), receipts and a maxi pad (hey, a girl has to be prepared).

3. Claritin, because I need to get a new prescription for my allergy meds, but the allergies, they show no mercy in the meantime.

4. iPod Nano on the thingy that allows me to listen to it in my car. Except that the lighter thingy in my car died a few weeks ago, and I'm devastated that I have to go back to CDs and the radio.

5. My "Hi, I'm a blogger, come visit my site" cards. Carry them everywhere and have yet to give any away (except to friends who already read the blog).

6. My make-up bag, containing one compact and 13,000 lip glosses.

7. Blackberry for work. I can't figure out how to use it, my messages don't come through, and that two-letters-on-each-key keyboard is driving me insane. Hate.

8. Breath mints. For my protection and yours.

9. Motorola Razr, my personal phone. If you've ever spoken to me on the phone, it was from this one.

10. Old, dirty, inefficient (and overstuffed) wallet. Time for a new one, it's just that the options are overwhelming.

11. Business card holder. With business cards in it. Ben gifted me this pretty, monogrammed case in our early days. Sadly, in real life, I'm pretty bad at self-promotion (see #5).

12. Socks. Because too many years of walking across flooded parking lots and ruining perfectly good shoes has led me to carrying rain boots in my car. The wet season sucks ass down here.

13. Tide To Go pen. It's useless; most of the time, it doesn't remove the satin. And when it does, I smell like Magic City Laundromat from Hell.

14. My pen.

15. Hershey's bar. For chocolate emergencies.

So now, what's in your purse (or bag)? If you do this, drop your link in the comments section.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Bed

It was confirmed for me last night, once again, that motherhood is basically a series of heavy sighs. And in-between feeling the usual sense of wonder, pride and general emotion, somewhere in back lingered that persistent thought: I did not sign up for this.

I wish I had thought this parenting thing out a lot more clearly. I thought long and hard about "being a good example" and "positive discipline" and "making touch choices for their ultimate good" and "dealing with the moments when they hate me" and "protecting them" and "instilling good values".

But I didn't think about the small moments that would break my heart. I didn't think about the little steps my boy would take that would ache for all they would signify. I didn't consider how the hardest part of my being a mother would be letting go at the right moment. It is small moments like these that kill me, that make me realize that while I get consumed with daily moments that exhaust me or leave me feeling inadequate, Max is growing and his needs are changing. And it's up to me to recognize and meet those needs, to adapt, and to get a grip.

To get a grip. I constantly tell myself to get a grip. But last night, I couldn't. I could only stare in amazement, feel that now-all-too-familiar lump in my throat, and marvel at my boy as he achieved yet another small milestone.



p.s. He was back in our bed by 2 a.m. Small steps, people, small steps.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/09/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cruel Summer

This summer isn’t turning out like I hoped it would. I had all these fun plans for Max, and I have failed to follow through and give him the best summer of his life.


Want to see me beat myself up over how I fail yet again? Continue reading this post at GNMParents.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/08/2007   | | | links to this post

Tere Reviews a Product (With Edits)

Poor Glad®. This post has come to pose a conundrum for me: where does a product review fit in here now, in light of all the talk about marketing in minorities and how, generally speaking, PR people look to us mommy bloggers for free advertising?

I've read some really good points on this topic; good enough, actually, for me to realize that my word, my opinion, have a value greater than "free" if companies with money to spare want me to vouch for them.

But.

I committed to doing this review before I really began to think about this larger issue, and I am a woman of my word (especially my curse words). Also, I was asked to review a product I was actually, really, seriously curious about: the new Glad® SimplyCooking™ Microwave Steaming Bags.

Here are the facts as they apply to me and my household:

1. Max LOVES veggies.

2. I want to at least like veggies.

3. I LOVE to cook, but time? I have none.

4. I am appropriately horrified by all the poison and evil released by plastic, but I need a quick, easy way to prepare veggies because time? I have none.

5. I am too cheap to spend $3 on 10 single-use bags only to find out they suck.

Therefore, the offer to try some for free was sweet music to my cheap ears.

So, here's the gist of it:

1. Put veggies (frozen or fresh) in the bag.

2. Punch the correct amount of time (depending on fresh vs. frozen and quantity) into the microwave and hit "start".

3. Remove and eat.



Look at me, freshly steamed and waiting for you!

We tried both fresh and frozen veggies, and we added soy sauce to one set (I don't know if that's "allowed" but we did it anyway). Great results all around. My husband and son ate them with gusto and they looked lovely on my plate.

So now, now I'll spend the $3 because I know the bags work and that they're easy and convenient and non-poisonous (um, riiiighttt?).

Overall, I'm pleased.

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

EDITED TO ADD:

Based on the comments I'm getting, I've realized that in my effort to be witty and breezy I omitted basic information (bad reviewer!). So, let me clarify a few things:

The microwave bags cut cooking time by a few minutes. Is it like this enormous difference? No, but then again, it's just veggies. (And BTW, the bag can also be used for things like fish and hot dogs, but honestly, that doesn't sound appetizing to me).

And, I should clarify that I was pleased with my experience because well, it was painless and the product did what it said it'd do. I didn't go into this thinking it would change or affect my habits. But it was a product I was curious about, and it was what it was supposed to be (quick, easy and convenient), and the veggies cooked well and tasted good.

Based on that, the product merits a good review. I'm sure I could get into the whole big corporation/useless product/marketing b.s./who knows if the plastic is really safe? thing. But honestly? I don't feel like it.

I can attest that the product works without compromising the veggies' taste and texture. And I'm confident that you can determine if it's something you want to incorporate into your cooking routine.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/08/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

'Round Here

Before I tackle the zillion drafts awaiting me, I have some odds and ends to toss out here.

First of all, thank goodness she's finally gone public with the news, because now I can blab it out here: my beloved PCD is pregnant! Whoooo Hooooo!!!! She's 18 weeks along, though we still don't know if it's a boy or a girl. With PCD expecting and K just having given birth, our trio is almost completely in full-on baby mode. Almost.

But I can't even get into baby mode until I handle a far more pressing problem: I've gained weight and it's killing me. In the past, stress and depression seemed to suppress my appetite and speed up my metabolism, so that I could be all crazy energy yet get by on very little. Now, post baby, the opposite is true: my problem has had me stressed out for months (with some mild depression slapping me every now and then), and I find myself craving snacks (salty and sweet, I don't discriminate). And my metabolism is slower than a snail. Seriously, this sucks. I've set a goal of losing 12 to 14 lbs. (oh my hell, I've gained 12 to 14 lbs.!) in 5 weeks. Is that doable? I have no clue. I just picked those numbers arbitrarily. But something's got to be done, so better eating habits and regular visits to the gym are in order. Seriously. Don't tell me I'm skinny and crazy. The extra skin under my chin does not lie.

Moving on...

So let's say you ask yourself: What's been going on in Tere's house? Ah, well today is the day I can answer that:

We've been enjoying the little lizard that's made our home his:




We've gone fishing:


A baby! We caught a baby!


and we've been showing off the latest fashion:


(Still a little big, but so cute - and true!) (And my thanks again to Props and Pans!)


I'm a churning, burning mess of thoughts, stress, exhaustion and general excitement. But I've been keeping it together with coffee, lots of coffee:


(Dig the cool mug, a b-day gift from Balou!) (And seriously, when did I break my nose? Because that crookedness is out of hand!)

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Posted by Tere @ 8/07/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, August 06, 2007

Race & Ethnicity: It Matters

I have, no kidding, about 12 posts sitting in draft mode. Everything from my review of a product to some randomness about an ex-boyfriend.

But I can't get to work on any one of them because they all seem so frivolous to me today. I've spent my morning muddled in something deeper, something that is ever-present whenever I'm perusing the blogosphere. Today, the pressing thought on my mind is race and ethnicity. And while everything is a jumble in my head right now, I feel a need to get these thoughts out there, to process it all, to join the conversation and say a few words on behalf of the Hispanic side of the blogosphere (Hispanic side, mind if I speak for you? Thanks!).

People. Gente. I don't want to tell you (again) that my hyphenated identity makes me feel left out in a community that is largely white. Because while this is still true, it is less true now than it was just weeks ago. The parenting blogging community has been (hopefully, rightfully) turned on its head after one of the panels at this year's BlogHer Conference (wherein Mocha Momma and CityMama raised very important questions of race, diversity and marketing in the parenting blog world).

One of the thoughts that's been rolling around in my head is the idea that race is invisible or non-noticeable on the blogosphere (this began with my inclusion/exclusion post at BlogRhet but has been expressed elsewhere). On one hand, I get it. I want you to see me as "Tere" - mother, wife, writer, all-around interesting human being. I want you to read me and email me and be my friend regardless of whether I'm white or olive or bi-cultural or speak English with a distinctive "Miami accent". On the other hand, I can't shake the feeling that only white people don't see color because well, they don't have to. When you're the majority and part of the race that dictates what's "normal", race isn't much of an issue to you personally. That's not to say that I've lived my life solely through the lens of being Hispanic (because let's face it: in Miami, I'm in the majority and it's white Anglos who are minorities), but I am well aware that, outside of South Florida, in person, that is what jumps out first, and that is what "marks" me, far and above anything else.

How does this translate in a medium like the Internet? I get why people would read someone else's site and not attribute a race or ethnic identity to them. I mean, even as someone who is proud of her Cuban heritage, that's not all I want you to see, nor do I feel compelled to work it into every post. So no, white people, when you say you don't see race, I'm not insulted. But I do wish you would see my ethnicity and recognize the monumental role it plays in making me me. And, just as I feel lost sometimes because of cultural differences, I am, in many ways, just like you. And whether you believe it or not, whether it has or hasn't occurred to you, you have as much to learn from me as I have to learn from you.

At the same time (paradoxically so?), race doesn't *matter* to me inasmuch as determining whom I will read. It is not the sole reason I would read someone; I need good substance to read a blog regularly. I greatly enjoy blogs by minorities - the voices they bring, the perspective they offer. I see a reflection of myself there sometimes, a recognition. But in looking for good content, and for content that I can relate to, race ultimately doesn't matter. Go figure. It's something I'm still trying to make sense of myself, even as I write it.

This issue has spun a tangent about marketing (or rather, the lack of it) to minority parents. And yeah, it's true: PR folks and companies don't hit up overtly ethnic blogs/bloggers. I can't begin to guess the reasons for this (oh, I could: ignorance, cluelessness about different cultures, misguided notions about particular ethnic groups), but it's been pointed out that marketers care mainly about hitting blogs that have high traffic numbers. In this regard, I think I fall somewhere in the middle, or perhaps I slipped through the cracks. I get a good number of pitches, many of which are irrelevant to me or what I write about. And as you can see on my sidebar, I'm now a member of the BlogHerAds network (which, I'll admit, I thought was only for very high-traffic sites). I don't know what the perception is on the marketer's end. Do they know I'm Hispanic? Do they care? Do they know that my traffic numbers are pathetic compared to the popular mom bloggers?

My attitude about this is that I'm happy to review products (and therefore provide free PR) for companies/things I would really use (but not anything else). I'm flattered that I'm "noticed". But you know, I would love to be contacted, to be asked my opinion and for reviews, to have advertising on my site, precisely because I am Hispanic. I would love for my ethnicity to be a highlight, a reason for - anything. Like Mocha Momma asked, where indeed is the Black/Hispanic/Asian/Indian Dooce?

The general question seems to be: does race matter in the blogosphere? The wonderful part is that bloggers of color are taking the issue head-on. For me, for this Cubanita, it does matter. I want you to know me as I am, as I see myself. I want you to expand your horizons and get to know people who are different, even as you make your way through the delicate topic of race and culture. I want to be part of a larger parenting/blogging community without feeling like my ethnicity is ignored or unimportant simply because the majority doesn't quite know how to address it.

I have found the best summation of my own feelings in what Julie wrote today, and I take her words to reflect my thoughts:

"Because while I don't think another person's race ought to matter to me, in my assessment of them, it can matter to them in how they feel a part of the world and therefore I ought to respect that, especially if they ask me to consider it as part of my understanding of them as an individual. I ask the same. My racial experiences are a part of me, too, and have affected how I view race, racial issues, and culture. Where I come from, the place and the people, affect who I am and how I perceive things, as well as my beliefs. I think this rings true for all of us, regardless."

There's more to be said on this topic. Other bloggers are asking good questions for this conversation to expand upon. I'll be tackling these as time allows and as my thoughts cohere.

(cross-posted at BlogRhet)

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Posted by Tere @ 8/06/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, August 04, 2007

OMG, I am Psychic!

As evidenced by this entry from my previous blog:

2004-08-05 22:17:00

We went to that death trap known as Babies R Us this evening to buy a gift for my cousin's baby. They have the cutest things, but I swear, the service is sssllllooooooooowwwwwwwwwww and incompetent. It's an exercise in frustration.

We were also browsing through the baby furniture and picked some stuff out that we really liked. All that's missing is the baby. Minor detail, though. We were just all googly-eyed imagining ourselves as parents. Whenever it happens, it's going to be so awesome.

Also, I've always had my finger on the pulse of fashion:

2004-08-04 15:39:36

This Lance-Armstrong-yellow-bracelet-thing has got to stop. It's so trendy and ubiquitous that it no longer has purpose. I'm sick of seeing every asshole in town, in the news, in every magazine wearing one.

Stop it. Stop it right now. You're not cool.


As you were.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, August 03, 2007

It's World Breastfeeding Week: Put a Baby on Your Boob!

So, didya know that Aug. 1 - 7 is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)? I'll be honest: I had heard something about it, forgotten about it, then remembered when my sister called me yesterday to tell me she was going to be doing a radio interview about it that afternoon.

I'm big on the breastfeeding. I believe in it, support it, did it, and feel infinitely frustrated that I live in a society (or in a geographical area?) that is so inherently against and nonsupporting of it and that at the same time assumes that women who breastfeed are either militant or flakey hippies. I'm generalizing, I know, but that's what it feels like overall.

So anywho, the WBW theme this year is "Breastfeeding: The 1st Hour", a message that has five objectives:

1. To mobilise the world to the potential for saving ONE million babies starting with ONE simple action: allowing the baby to initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life.

2. To promote immediate skin-to-skin contact of the mother and baby and continuing with exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

3. To encourage ministers of health and other authorities to include the initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour as a key indicator for preventive health.

4. To ensure that families know how important a baby’s first hour is, so that they can make sure that their babies are given this opportunity.

5. To support the newly revised and revitalized Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), with its emphasis on integration and expansion, and on the early initiation of breastfeeding.

I think the message of initiating breastfeeding within the first hour is a vital one, and this world report card provides some data on the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour throughout the world. What I find most interesting is that the rates are highest in Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway; and Norway is known to have one of the most progressive, family-friendly maternity policies in the world, such as 42 weeks of paid maternity leave; and, for moms who go back to work, 1 to 2-hour breaks to go home to breastfeed, or to have the child brought to work. The government and society play a big role in supporting mothers and make it so that women have the time and support they need to care for their babies without feeling pressure to get back to work to earn money. Talk about having their priorities straight!

Compare that to the United States, where women face constant stress and pressure to make choices based on factors like time and money. How many new moms don't breastfeed because they have such a short maternity leave that they feel it's best to not start something they won't be able to successfully commit to? How many new moms would like to continue breastfeeding but don't because their places of employment do not allow them to pump their milk? How many moms can't even take a real maternity leave because their jobs just don't provide any assistance and they need to pay the bills?

It's easy to look at something like maternity leave, breastfeeding and related issues as one isolated thing. But the implications of this one thing reverberates throughout society. When a mother (or father) can't take adequate time to tend to her (or his) newborn, or can't feed her baby in the way she feels is best for him/her because her job, her family, her friends and her government don't support her, we have a serious problem on our hands. You start off this way, and where do you go from there but down? As a working mom myself, I can attest to the pressure and stress I feel whenever I make a choice that clearly puts my son before my job. The consistent message I get, subtle or not, is that for these choices that I make, I stand less and less of a chance of going higher in my career. And I, for all intents and purposes, am privileged. So what about mothers who are in low-paying, crappy-benefits jobs? It's a sad state of affairs all around.

I'd love to see the United States (both the government and society) adopt policies and attitudes that really support mothers, so that they (we) can make the best possible choices without feeling like we're paying for it somehow. Meanwhile, I'm going to continue on my path, the one that I feel is best for my family, work and society and stress and pressure be damned.

And that, my friends, is your PSA for the day.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/03/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, August 02, 2007

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream -- Not

It's been a strange couple of weeks in my house. Max is going through... something... that has rendered him ultra-needy and unable to sleep well at night. From one night to the next (literally), he went from agreeably going to bed each night to fighting with all his might, settling down only when Ben or I cuddle down with him in our snuggle chair and hold him until he falls asleep. Then, without fail, he wakes up at about 2 a.m., wailing, and will not settle back down unless we bring him into our bed or climb back down into the snuggle chair. And I gotta tell you, that damn snuggle chair is the most uncomfortable spot on earth when it's 2 a.m. and you just. need. to. sleep.

Ben and I are really concerned about this abrupt change. Two weeks ago, when we'd say, "Max, night-night, let's have some lechita (milk)", he would squeal, trot to his bedroom door, let us put him in his crib, where he'd grab his cup of milk, turn on his musical aquarium, and that was it. Well, after a few minutes he'd toss his toys out of the crib and would fuss/whine for a good 10 minutes, but it was nothing that required our intervention.

And now? We keep acting the same, saying the same things, but he ignores us. If we just move ahead like we've always done, the second we approach the crib, he clings to whomever's carrying him like a little monkey, and it's one big, ugly fight to get him into the crib. And if we manage that, the tears, wailing and heartbreaking sobs are instant. But if we take him into our arms and let him fall asleep there, it all goes without a hitch. Until 2 a.m., that is.

So... we're friggin' clueless. He's had a bit of a cold over the last week, but we don't think a runny nose is the root of this. It could be his second-year molars (he's been a bit more drooly than usual), but I can't feel anything yet. Beyond citing "developmental changes" or "developmental milestones", the books are useless. So Ben and I have been spending the few hours we have between work and bed discussing this, trying to figure out how to fix it, and trying to figure out what "it" is.

I know it's pointless to try to figure out what changed from one night to the next, but I have to admit, I'm personally stuck there. I keep going over the last "good" night, comparing it to the first "bad" one: what was different? Bedtime was at the same time; the milk came from the same bottle; his pajamas were the same; the preceding hours had been filled with the same activities. So what was it? I feel like, if I could figure that out, I can find a solution.

Because right now, I am extremely sleep-deprived. The 2 a.m. waking is something only Mami can soothe. Whether I go into the snuggle chair or take him into our bed, he clings to me and buries himself in my neck or under my arm. Oh, but wait - I have to stop my bitching here to tell you that there's nothing greater than having this delicious boy bury himself into me; to feel his tiny arm around my neck or his fingers stroking my collarbone; nor is there a greater comfort than knowing that it is I who makes him feel the safest and most comfortable. Just as I grumble about this now, I cling to him every night, knowing that in a few short years, this type of cuddling, of affection, of need, of turning to me in complete trust will be non-existent.

But people, it's 2 a.m. I need my sleep. I have to work in the morning. And Ben, who is repeatedly kicked in the back and/or stomach, works 12-hour shifts. There's no "sleeping in" in our house, unless it's the weekend and Ben and I give each other a turn. At 2 a.m. on a weeknight, I just need to sleep, and comfortably at that. As wonderful as it is to have my boy cleaved into me, it's also uncomfortable as hell. When he was an infant, we were all about the family bed because it matched our parenting philosophy and also made the most sense, what with me giving him my boob every hour and a half.

But now? Um, no. Now he is almost two and way too restless for us to have him in bed. In fact, he transitioned to his crib at about 10 months precisely because he was so restless in our bed that he was barely sleeping. In his crib, though, there's none of the restlessness. So being here, with him in our bed at 2 a.m., not quite as restless as he used to be but still somewhat restless, sucks. If it were a case where he would sleep peacefully between us, I think we'd shrug at this whole shift and let him. We're not fundamentally opposed to having him in our bed, so we could deal with it. But under these circumstances, this is just not working.

So, we are sleep-deprived. We are achy. We are puzzled over what the hell happened and why it happened. We are short on reasons, answers and solutions. Meanwhile, Max is obviously getting a little too comfortable with this new routine, which makes a little alarm go off in our heads that tells us we should come up with some kind of plan we're both satisfied with, so that we can all live and sleep in peace.



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Posted by Tere @ 8/02/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!

Slouching Mom tagged me to do this meme, which began with Blog Antagonist. The point of this meme is a good one, which is why I'm participating: write 10 things about yourself that you like.

That sounds a lot easier than it really is, you know. This has been in draft mode for almost a week now.

But! Here's my stab at the Stuart Smalley Meme.

I rock, because:

1. I'm a really fair person.

2. My lips are full and soft and luscious, and perfect for lipstick, pouting and kissing (all which I enjoy very much).

3. Brains. I own some good ones.

4. My sense of humor, while lame and weird in many ways, is ever-present in my life. I try to use it often to help me gain perspective on things.

5. When I find something new that I previously had no knowledge of, I switch into "research mode" and read a wide variety of sources to inform myself.

6. I make a conscious effort to be compassionate and kind, even when (especially when) it's really, really hard to be so.

7. I *get* aromatherapy and am very good at practicing it.

8. I'm a passionate person, in every sense of the word.

9. My laugh is loud and I snort and wheeze sometimes, but I love the way it sounds, the way it explodes out of my mouth.

10. My eyes. They're big and deep and generally unable to hide my true thoughts and feelings; and just as they can instantly tell you if I think you're full of shit, they can also show the fire and passion in my soul.

As usual, I am to tag others to do this. But I suck at that. This ego-boosting meme is one all of you should try (yeah, you're going to struggle, so when you finally finish it, it's double the ego-booster). So do it! And then leave your link in the comments section.

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And in another ego-boosting turn of events, I won something really cool! For once! I won something! Over at Props and Pans, IzzyMom put up a post about SATees - onesies and shirts for babies and kids with "sophisticated adjectives" that are just so friggin' cute that the vocabulary geek in me instantly fell in love. IzzyMom offered readers the chance to win one by leaving a comment about the one they'd pick for their child. So, thinking of my "gregarious", "blithesome" boy, I knew I had to throw my hat in.

And I won! In the end, I had to pick the shirt the most truthfully describes my beloved boy, so I went with "indefatigable". My thanks to IzzyMom, Props and Pans, SATees, God and the Academy.

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And... I've been Simpsonized! Considering that I used this (whale, ahoy!) picture from my baby shower:



I think the results are pretty good:


Pink lipstick, however, looks awful on me.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/01/2007   | | | links to this post