Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Just Water

Right this second, I'm having one of those parenting moments where my son is doing something that is harmless and fun, but it grates on that part of me that just sees a mess and an annoyance.

He has some water in his sippy cup and is (slowly) pouring it into a regular cup so he can drink it that way. Along the way, water's getting spilled on the side table, the floor and the couch. He's just loving that he's drinking out of a "big boy" cup.

I know, I know, I know: he's having fun, it's no big deal, and he's learning a new skill. So I keep telling myself, "it's just water; it's just water; it's just water."

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Posted by Tere @ 3/29/2008   | | | links to this post

Friday, March 28, 2008

Random Friday

Balou alerted me to this neat blog, Friday Fill-Ins, where the writer offers a series of fill-in sentences to prompt you and, uh, fill in, on days like today, where my brain's not working very well.

1. Some relationships are meant to DIE.
2. Indigo Girls is the last concert I saw; it was fantastic, as usual.
3. Spring should be savored.
4. Oh no! I forgot something, I'm sure of it!
5. I've recently started exercising at the gym - again.
6. The Golden Girls never fails to make me smile.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chilling out, tomorrow my plans include a visit to Target, an oil change and dinner with friends and Sunday, I want to do a bunch of things I won't get to do because of family obligations!

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Posted by Tere @ 3/28/2008   | | | links to this post

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Sum of Seven Years

Is roughly:


Taken by this brand-new little beauty:



Ben wasted no time and immediately posted his report. We decided, because this should technically be a "lucky" year and because we'll be hitting the 10-year mark in the summer, to go a little crazy (of course, neither one of us will be giving the other birthday presents this year).

We also had a fantastic, delicious meal at Michael's Genuine. Over dinner, I asked Ben, "So what's it like to be trapped with in a relationship with me all these years?"

His response?

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Posted by Tere @ 3/27/2008   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Missing of Zoë

Today is a year that I lost her. I feared I'd forget, and I feared what it would say about me if I had forgotten (maybe that I really hadn't loved her after all). But I didn't forget, and today I've had her very present in my mind and in my heart.

My little dog; my Zoë. So sweet. So loving and affectionate. So annoyingly neurotic. I can't think of her without my eyes welling up with tears or the guilt rising up my stomach and settling in my throat as a hard, painful lump. There may be no real need for that guilt, but it's unavoidable with me. I have a hard time forgiving myself for just about everything, and so when I think about her and how her life changed when Max arrived, it just sucks; especially because the starkness of her death has made all her quirks and faults so incredibly insignificant - it's a perspective I wish I didn't have to attain through losing her.

Beyond that, I miss her. I miss that face. I miss her snuggling up against me. I miss those eyes. I miss every single thing because even at her most annoying, she was lovable and faithful.

Over the last few weeks, I've entertained the thought of getting another Cocker Spaniel (but not a puppy; I prefer to rescue an adult). I love the breed and always go back to it when I think about what kind of dog I'd like to have. But I just don't think I can. I don't have it in me just yet to offer that kind of love or to live with the ghost of what still feels like a recent loss.

I wish I could honor my girl in some way other than these words. I write these words because I have nothing else; because I don't want her to be forgotten; because as a loyal companion, she deserves to be remembered.

And I remember you, my Zoë. I always will.




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

p.s. I'm back to regular posting at GNMParents, and this marks my return. Go give me advice!

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Posted by Tere @ 3/25/2008   | | | links to this post

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lucky Number 7

Easter Sunday's probably not the best day to be in a bad mood, but I was. By the time we got home after a long day full of family activities, my mood had shifted from mildly upset to full-blown cranky and pissy.

It was, I think, tied to an argument Ben and I had had early that morning. It was about something we typically argue about anyway, enough so that it should no longer even upset me. And it wasn't the argument itself that upset me, but the fact that Ben refused to deal with it or get over it or save it for later and spent all of Easter pouting and being anti-social (which is a whole other thing we argue about, but we'll save that for another day).

So as it goes sometimes, by the time he was over it, I was incensed at how long it took him to get there, and my mood was beyond repair. And in all the other things - being tired, having a headache, dealing with a rambunctious Max and a whiny dog - and I went to sleep in a foul, foul mood.

Which is an unfortunate way to usher in your 7th wedding anniversary. It's hard to wake up and feel happy and blessed and lovey-dovey when a few hours ago you could've killed The One You Chose To Spend Your Life With as well as The Precious Fruit Of His Loin. Luckily, I physically felt like hell and couldn't stand to get out of bed at my usual time. So I didn't. Ben, in what I assume was a peace offering, left me alone and took care of all the morning duties so I could stay burrowed in bed.

By the time I got up, Max was in daycare and Ben was at the grocery store, so I had some time alone. It was just the medicine I needed, so that by the time Ben got home, I was back to normal, and so was he. From there, we shared a sweet, uneventful day: work, a long walk around the neighborhood that included a stop at the viandero who sells his fresh fruits and veggies, and a wonderful dinner with our son and my sister and brother-in-law, complete with a post-meal stop at the new neighborhood Starbucks.

And I'm wondering now, as the day comes to an end (it will be "tomorrow" by the time I hit "publish"), if this is what it's like when you've spent so much time with someone: routine arguments simmer, then fade and leave no lasting impact. Years ago, the topics we repeatedly argue about made me feel like our relationship was doomed, like I'd never lose that knot in my stomach. Because I couldn't see how we could be together and be happy with these things forever hanging between us. And then at some point (perhaps with the arrival of Max), it stopped mattering. Those small arguments took on a different meaning, a much less significant meaning. It is as if our truer, deeper nature was revealed to me, and I knew we were solid at our core - and so we would be o.k.

My life with Ben (and Max), it's oftentimes hard; it's maddeningly challenging, frequently funny and infinitely moving.

So today, I am happy and blessed and lovey-dovey. Indeed.


(You can check out last year's post to see how young and foolish we were.)

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Posted by Tere @ 3/24/2008   | | | links to this post

Friday, March 21, 2008

What the F is Wrong With People Around Here?

Yesterday marked the first time that Max had a real, full-blown, hideous melt-down in public. It was nothing like the petting zoo – it was about 10 times worse. The tears, the screaming – as if he was being physically tortured when he was, in fact, merely strapped to a grocery cart.

My God, it was bad. BAD. My boy is one whose tears are always ready, and yesterday they streamed, endlessly it seemed, from his red, miserable face. What the problem was, exactly, I still haven't figured out. My guess is a combination of my not allowing him to sit in the cart (curse you, daddy, for allowing that in the first place!) and insisting he sit in the front, securely strapped in; plus his desire for a pacifier, which not only did I not have on me, but he knows full well is only for bedtime; plus our mere presence at the grocery store, when he wanted to be in his "casa" with Mia.

I was actually o.k. with this show of his. I knew it would happen sooner or later, and consider myself lucky that I got away with 2.5 years of mild tantrums before hitting the big one. And for whatever miraculous reason, I was in the right mood, which really means I wasn't frazzled or frustrated or crazy. I just let him do what he had to do and remained calm. When he began throwing things and biting me, I still managed to remain calm even though I felt completely clueless about what to do.

The thing that got me – that pissed me off like I haven't been pissed off in a while – was all the people around me. As I stood there, in an aisle in Publix, waiting for my son to calm down, trying to keep it together, figuring out what to do, not wanting to cave in to him, a group of people swarmed around me and just stood there, staring. As if we were part of a zoo exhibit - just standing and staring. I'm surprised no one popped out their camera and snapped some shots, too.

What the F is wrong with people around here? Who does that kind of thing? I have no recollection of ever circling around someone in a similarly unfortunate situation and just gaping at them. Either give me a sympathetic look because it's obvious I need one, or keep moving. Hell, criticize me if you want (because that, people won't hesitate to do in these parts) - but just standing there in front of me, staring? Am I crazy for thinking that's unbelievably rude and unkind? As it is, there was nothing so extraordinary about that situation - it was just a toddler having a massive tantrum. Isn't that like a dime a dozen?

I can't get the image of that scene out of my head. I keep feeling this surge of anger and helplessness, and I wish I had had the courage and presence of mind to tell those people off or humiliate them or make them feel as crappy as they made me feel.

Meanwhile, I never even got my friggin' groceries. I just turned around and left.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/21/2008   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Miami Herald Gets All Mommy Bloggy

Well, what do you know?! Looks like the Miami Herald has entered the world of mommy blogging - behold MomsMiami.

Interesting. I want to see how this develops and wish them much luck and success. It'd be nice if this became a viable and useful tool, with a vibrant community and all that sweet stuff.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/19/2008   | | | links to this post

The Saddest Petting Zoo Ever

We spent a good part of Sunday morning at the park with some friends. I, I'm ashamed to admit, had never been to Pinecrest Gardens since Parrot Jungle moved out and it was converted into a beautiful neighborhood park. Given that a lot of the park has been left to flourish on its own, it's a wonderful hybrid of natural beauty and traditional park.

Anyway. It was hot as hell. They have this small toddler splash area with some sprinklers and such, and I was about ready to push them all out of the way and throw myself in one of the puddles of water. But none of us were prepared for the splash area (no swimsuits, towels, etc), so we stayed in the playground, which is right next to a petting zoo. And while the playground was great, that petting zoo was the most depressing thing I'd ever seen.

The petting zoo was made up of about five huge pigs (huge, nothing like Wilbur or Babe or even Porky Pig. They were immense and surly) and two or three goats. That's it. They were supposed to be led to the general area every hour starting at 10 a.m., but no one showed up until noon. The animals had to be pushed gently urged to the general area, where 15 kids were waiting with cups of food. These poor creatures just seemed so forlorn: they had zero interest in the food; the pigs bared their teeth and squealed (in what sounded like terror) whenever a kid approached; and they all seemed tired, dirty and depressed, as if they carried the weight of the world on their shoulders and that world was a miserable one.

And my son - my son was walking up to each animal and kissing it on its side and rubbing his hands all over the crapped-up dirt. When I asked him to please stop, he kept right at it. I warned him to stop or we'd leave, and sure enough, he kept right at it and I picked him up and took him out of the petting zoo. It was a move that inspired him to cling to the gate and kick and scream and cry, while I hovered over him, trying to both calm him down and move him out of the way while holding my ground, all the while battling my embarrassment and anger as I hissed at him, "Keep it up and we're not just leaving the animals, we're leaving the park." I felt all eyes on me as I dragged my child away as he yelled "NO!! STOP! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" There I was, being that mom. And it didn't help when later on I saw another mom talking to her husband, giving me a look and pointing and gesturing at me. Bitch.

Still, I didn't let him back into the petting zoo. I gave him some time to calm himself down and then let him get back to the playground.

By the end of it all, I was a wasted mess. Tired. Upset. Disappointed in myself. I thought of the petting zoo as I drove home. Poor animals.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/19/2008   | | | links to this post

Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy Roman Catholic Toddler

When we got our new bedroom set, I put my old rosary and scapular that used to hang off one of the bedposts somewhere in Max's room. I didn't remember where; the new bed doesn't have bedposts, and I wanted to put the items somewhere safe. In the chaos of switching everything around, I misplaced them.

Until tonight.


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Posted by Tere @ 3/17/2008   | | | links to this post

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Home-Coming-Home

It's nice to be alone for a couple of days. It's luxurious to have a couple of nights to myself, to have a quiet dinner and snuggle down in a big bed all by myself, watching whatever I want on TV, snacking on my Twizzlers. Very luxurious indeed.

But it's oh-so-sweet to come home to a little boy who shrieks when he sees me and wraps his arms around me and refuses to let me go.

So, so incredibly sweet.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/13/2008   | | | links to this post

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Post I Always Write, Just in Case

It's that time again: I fly tomorrow (and then back again on Wednesday). I have no Xanax, and so I must white-knuckle it.

I'm scared, and feeling silly over being scared, but also feeling like if I'm not scared, I'm just being foolish and deluded. The only reason for this is Max. I'm flying alone (and will be doing so two other times in the next month), and I no longer fear for myself; I fear for my son, for leaving him half orphaned. With this comes all this sadness over how he will suffer so much at first, only to forget me - completely forget me. Just looking at these words, I feel like I'm being so melodramatic; but I just can't erase the thought that the plane tomorrow (or on Wednesday, or on the next trip or the one after) is just going to plunge. Or explode. Which I prefer, honestly. I'd rather not know what hits me - a plummet of 30,000, no matter how fast, feels like much too long for me to face my imminent death and feel the surge of fear, sadness and regret.

This afternoon, Max napped on me for a little while. It's been a long time since he's done that. I held that boy so tightly, memorized him all over again, breathed him in as if every breath depended on it, and it did. It did. There is no reason for me to seriously think anything bad (like, you know, my death) will happen on tomorrow's flight or any other. But I have no way of knowing what will happen, no way of preventing it if it's going to happen. So the moments I have with my son can't help but feel like the last, and I've been treating them as such. I've been more indulgent and clingier. My absolute terror over flying makes me less apt to hide my neediness.

All I can do now is tell myself that it will be o.k. It will be o.k. It will. It will. It will.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/09/2008   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Have No Issues to Report

So.

What's up?

You good?

I'm good.

Good.

Over the last couple of weeks, a strange thing has happened: life has started to feel normal again. I'm settling into my new routine and am trying hard to get back to regular (ideally, daily) writing. I've done a number of posts reviewing products or books or announcing contests because in agreeing to do those, I am committed to writing. It's helping me get back on track.

Right now I'm experiencing a rare moment where life feels normal: quiet, simple, boring even (except for that dying horse I keep beating). The paranoid part of me says this is the calm before the storm, and that I better both enjoy this and brace for whatever's coming. Because I just see life that way. Easy and quiet and boring make me suspicious.

But well. My priority right now is to get back to regular writing. The funny thing is that in going through a prolonged period of anxiety and unhappiness and then adjusting to some life changes, I feel like I'm starting over. I can't remember where I left off before my writing here turned to crap.

And starting over is o.k. I can live with it and use this feeling to see what new thoughts, opionions and experiences I've got in me. Hhhmmm - that prospect actually sounds exciting.

I hope you stick around for this part of the journey.

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Posted by Tere @ 3/05/2008   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Gay Guy Tells Me How to Parent Mah Baby

I took it as a propitious sign when I got an offer to read The Gay Uncle's Guide to
Parenting
, a new parenting book by Brett Berk, an educator who's been around kids and seen it all for more than 20 years. I say this because I've been putting off looking for a book that discusses some of the challenges I've been facing as the mom of a toddler. The thing is, I fear that if I start one book, I'll seek out another book, then another, and then next thing you know, I'm caught in this awful vortex of parenting books, none of which will ever answer all my questions or meet my expectations or empower me or make it all all right.

O.k., so I have some issues when it comes to the parenting genre; I admit it. So the fact that this book pretty much fell on my lap was a sign to me that I should just read it and see if I could glean anything from it. The fact that it promised some humor and snark didn't hurt, as that's how I prefer to take advice in.

The premise of the book is interesting: Berk has spent the last 20 years or so working with children - as a teacher, a preschool director and a consultant to toy/food/etc. companies. So basically, he's an expert on kids because he's been with them and seen them in action and worked with them and, and this might be the important part, has been able to do the same with parents. And as a gay man who has not had kids of his own, has been able to remain at enough distance to keep perspective, the kind we parents can lose sometimes.

I have to admit that it was mainly this premise - gay childless man who's spent most of his life surrounded by kids - that most got my attention. Because I could really use the perspective of someone who's neither parent nor doctor but can lay some claim to expertise, and I know a gay man's going to give it to me straight, no pun intended.

So how did Berk do?

Continue reading...

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Posted by Tere @ 3/04/2008   | | | links to this post

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Canadians in Miami, but Don't Worry: I Fed Them Cuban Food and All is Well

Have I told you that I love Canadians? I do. I met a bunch of them (all from the Toronto area) back in high school (fell in love with one of them, too, but that's not a story for today), and I immediately clicked with them. I'm not sure why, but there's something about Canadians that I love, that makes sense to me, that makes them feel like kindred spirits.

So, I love Canadians. This is the reason I agreed to meet some strangers for a breakfast where I would have to discuss Cuban food and what it means to be Cuban in America, especially during this time of heightened attention on the situation in Cuba (which is, briefly, still not good). Because I found out they were Canadian. Prior to realizing that, I had been on the fence about the whole thing.

What the H am I talking about? Sorry, I just had a cookie and the sugar's made me wonky.

The guys from Fresh Books were in town for some conferences. Since they had to be down here but are also going to be at SXSW in Austin this week, they decided to rent an RV and make a road trip of it. They thought it'd be fun if along the way they met up with bloggers, which is where I came in, seeing as how I live in Miami and am a blogger and am known and loved by all.

But honestly, when I received the invite, I wasn't so sure about it. Not for anything, just my own inadequacies about myself and how those may be perceived by others. But once I read through their regular blog and saw they were Canadians, I reconsidered. Then I thought it'd be a good chance to spring the Cuban on a bunch of unsuspecting people, and suggested we go to the only place we Cubans are allowed to take out-of-towners (I swear, it's in the secret manual): Versailles restaurant.

What resulted was a great breakfast (the look on the waiter's face when I ordered a ton of croquetas, papas rellenas, tostadas Cubanas and pastelitos was priceless), with Balou of Searching for Normalcy and MKH of Hidden City joining me. The guys were great: friendly, curious and open-minded. It seems like they loved the food and we had a wonderful, intelligent conversation about Cuba, Castro, Che, the exile community, etc. We all agreed, in the end, that the proper attire for a retired tyrant is in fact a tracksuit (with name embroidery, natch), because it's pretty hard to top a life of camouflage, and Adidas - well, there's a lot of cred associated with that brand.

Their take on the breakfast is here.

It was fun, guys. I'm glad our paths crossed; and I remain firm in my belief that Canadians are wonderful people. Enjoy your road trip!

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Posted by Tere @ 3/02/2008   | | | links to this post