Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Perfect Day

This weekend we went and stayed at a fancy resort. The best moment of the trip, for me, came when I was sitting in a poolside chair with a happily tousled Theo asleep on my chest. I was watching Chris and Lucy play in the gorgeous blue water and I could feel the breeze and the sunshine on my face. It occurred to me that someday I will be old and looking back on my life, and this exact moment was one of the ones that will have made mine a good life. It was nice to recognize it as it went by.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Squeezable grape jelly

Today I made sandwiches with Skippy peanut butter and Welch's squeezable grape jelly. It doesn't get more american than that. The part that gets me is the squeezable part. getting jelly out of a jar was too hard? We need to make that easier. Oh, I know, let's put the peanut butter and jelly in the SAME squeezable container. Save time. Oh wait, they already do.

Friday, February 26, 2010

wrong sport

we were playing hockey in the living room and jax scored a goal. he raised his stick and yelled,

almost, kid.

I Adore Theodore

I am happier in Puerto Rico this year than I was last year. Maybe this is because:

- I have the car more
- Lucy likes school better
- We have more to do after school, like piano and dance and soccer so the days aren't so loooong
- I'm really trying hard to pray every morning
- I get a 1-2 hour nap every day

But definitely a big part of it is because this guy is not driving me crazy anymore. I mean, honestly, look how cute my son is!

Monday, February 22, 2010


what is it about 3-4am? if a kid is going to throw up, have a nightmare, firealarms go off, it always happens at that hour. so jack has been waking up at this gross hour and deliriously trying to talk/cry himself into getting out of bed or into mine. these are some of the funnier lines i can remember:

most unoriginal: I need some milk
most responsible: I need to go to school! (remember: he's 2)
silliest: my back hurts so I need a cough drop
most OCD: (I hear him talking to himself) mom said she ALREADY gave me 3 kisses. o yes, (sniff) I remember.
most frustrating: (yelled from bed) I not feeling perfect!
most heart wrenching: I need a hug!
most effective : I going to throw up!

Eric’s best: the skin on my feet are falling off (he had scraped himself with his own toe nail)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So Accomodating

When I tell people that we haven't altered our cooking to accommodate our food allergic child, they are often a bit surprised. We have good reason for this, and here it is:
On Saturday I purchased some egg replacer for the first time. A powdery substance which you mix with water to produce the baking equivalent of one egg. Jerry decided to make cakies (cookies from a cake mix). What a nice chocolate treat for our baked-goods-deprived child. First off, it took Jerry more than a normal amount of stiring and scraping to get that water and powder mixed. Then, incorporating that into the cake mix was no small task. 4 Tbsp of water is just not as sticky as 2 eggs. Add some no-milk chocolate chips and you have some really crumbly stuff. So Jerry mixed and mixed and mixed and squeezed and pushed the dry batter into cookie shapes.

The cookies actually came out looking real nice and tasted great. We presented Levi with the chocolatey offering and he took one bite and was done. He could not be coaxed into eating more. "Just take one more bite of this cookie, pleeeease".

Well that worked out nicely.

Fort Happy Place

We live in Puerto Rico- the isle of enchantment...paradise. Cruise ships flock here for the natural beauty and wealth of history. We are surrounded by gorgeous beaches, towering palm trees, blooming tropical flowers and lush, mountainous jungle. And yet, in the midst of all this stunning beauty, my favorite place on the island is rapidly becoming...the Fort Buchanan Army Base. Beth laughed at me the other day when she asked what was the next thing I was looking forward to and I said 'getting to go on base this afternoon.' But it's TRUE! To understand why I've developed such strong feelings, it's important to grasp what driving everywhere else in San Juan is like. Here are some pictures I took on an average day (today) on my drive home from the base. Don't worry, my car was not moving during the making of this footage.

I like this one because it demonstrates a common phenomenon- namely that although this street is meant to have one lane going in each direction, me and the car next to us are sharing the lane. This will work OK until we come to a car parked in my half of the lane, which happens about once per block.

Here we have the ambulance (with lights and sirens) attempting to get through the crowded intersection with no one making any attempt to get out of their way. Also note the efficient use of electrical and telephone wires.

This is the intersection to get into our neighborhood. It's, well, crowded. I feel crowded a lot.

Then, you drive onto base. At first glance it's nothing impressive. The buildings are drab, single storied and functional. There's been no particular landscaping, and there's no ocean front view or interesting topography. No, what draws me to the Army base is that it's so...peaceful. It's quiet. Traffic is orderly and goes at a constant speed in a constant direction. There are large swaths of open green space, and adequate off street parking for every building. No one honks. Today I actually yielded to a pedestrian. I don't know where the dogs poop, but they don't do it in the street or on the playgrounds. Here are Lucy and Theo relaxing under a tree at school, getting ready to run the gauntlet of the drive home:

Every day between 2:15 and 2:30 the base school system loads 2500 kids from three separate schools onto 23 different buses and delivers them to the far corners of San Juan. They do it reliably and with a minimum of fuss. It literally only takes them fifteen minutes to load those buses! I can't get the three kids in my Primary class to the bathroom and back in fifteen minutes. It's truly a minor miracle of efficiency and planning. Here is a shot from the parking lot up the hill to where the buses wait. Can you feel the tranquility?

The base actually has this sign:

and we have literally had to STOP FOR DUCKS three times!

It kinda makes me proud to be an American. Go Army!

Random School Stuff

First, as a follow up to my last post, I would like to show you this photo, which I went to great lengths to obtain:

These are the feet of the moms that were waiting with me in the cafeteria today for the kids to get out of school. Have you ever tried to surreptitiously photograph the feet of people standing next to you? It's tricky. "Oh, don't mind me, I'm just really interested in this tile..."
I really wished the little boy would have moved, because behind him the woman is wearing 4-inch hot pink heels with shoelaces. But you're just going to have to trust me on that one, because they were already looking at me strangely and not just because I was wearing flats.

Last week we found oranges at Costco. Not little green seedy sometimes-sweet-and-sometimes-not Puerto Rican oranges, but big glorious California ones. I put one in Lucy's lunch box the next day, and that afternoon she said, "Mom, can you put TWO oranges in my lunch tomorrow?" I was pleased that she liked them so much and agreed. Then I opened her lunchbox to find it littered with cookie wrappers and an empty plastic pudding cup. "Hey, where did all this come from?" I asked.
Well it turns out that those oranges are like peeled gold on the kindergarten black market trading circuit! She had quartered it and made a hefty profit in processed sugar. Who knew?

Today was the 100th day of school for Lucy and a few weeks ago we got a note asking us to make a shirt with 100 things on it for Lucy to wear in the 100 Day Parade. You guys know how crafty I am, but I was kind of proud of how our shirt turned out:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A few months after we moved here I started to realize that I do not dress like a Puerto Rican. It first became obvious in the mornings when I was dropping Lucy off at school. I was usually wearing shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt..or as Tom Dunkle once pointed out, "the first thing I stepped on in the morning," but all the other moms were dressed something like this:

I soon became aware of it everywhere. Puerto Rican women do not wear collared shirts, closed toed shoes or flats when they could be wearing heels. They prefer gold lame' and large, fake, glued-on jewels. If there is room for a rhinestone on an accessory, by all means, use it! You would not catch a Puerto Rican woman dead in a T-shirt, unless she was racing for the cure or something, and even then it would have to have Micheal Jackson in gold glitter paint on it.

Ha! I thought. Silly Puerto Ricans! Can't they see how much more efficient I am with my time and how much more comfortable I am? Don't they see that all the reflection off the gold piping on those ruffles is only making them hot? So I happily continued to wear my board shorts (that I had to buy in the men's department) and Tevas and used my un-bedazzled backpack in public and everything. It got kind of annoying, trying to shop for clothes here, looking for nice, functional, solid color t-shirts amongst the racks of gaudacious clothing, but I never felt the slightest temptation to turn to the glitter side. Until. UNTIL...

One day, out of the blue last week I looked down at my comfortable and perfectly stylish (in California, of course) feet

and thought, "Good grief that is ugly! I look like I have hooves!" Suddenly I could see that I've spent the last year and a half dressing like a man. A man with hooves.

And the next day I went out and bought some new shoes.

Which I managed to wear for all of 90 minutes on Sunday. But that's not the point. The point is that after living here for 20 months, I have finally been influenced by the local culture. Now, is it crazy that I finally caved, or is it ridiculous that it took this long? I don't know, but I think I need to move soon because I'm really starting to want a glue gun...

Friday, February 12, 2010

for valentines day

To get this story, first, go to this link and ffwd to 6:35. There is the great part where (at 7:50), he is slowly dicecting her words...

Today after an explotion of hearts and sugar, i found sydney and a friend of hers huddled over a certain boys' valentine, giggling and syd saying, (with a twinkle in her eye) "Sponge Bob says: Lets do math! you + me = a great valentines day!". o yea! he totally meant to give me a special message!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Puerto Rico Miscellany

I'm sure all of you have been on pins and needles wondering how Lucy's soccer rematch against Antonio (tell me a story-o) went this week. It went fine. I think there was some residual guilt on our side about the 10-0 shellacking we gave them last week, so this time around we lent them some players and arranged to have Fisher (let me tell you a story-o with my powerful left foot) sidelined with a concussion. Final score, 2-1, Blue team, with Lucy and Antonio (tmas-o) still looking like this at the end:

In other news, we have acquired another hamster. It turns out that two hamsters are exactly as much trouble as one hamster, but a lot cuter and less depressing. Here you can see Merry Christmas on the left and Valentine on the right:

Chris pointed out, "Merry Christmas is a good-looking hamster. If I was a hamster, I'd be all over that." When I looked a little uncomfortable with this sentiment, he clarified, "Well, obviously I'm NOT."

Today I was folding clothes and I actually thought to myself "this T-shirt is more of a winter weight T-shirt. Maybe I should put it away until winter." Then it occurred to me- it IS winter! I wasn't sure what photo would best demonstrate the weather down here, but here is a picture of Lucy's school from this week:

Theo and Lucy are really cute lately. Theo calls them "We-wo and Su-cy". Theo has moved out of his baby bed and now shares with her. It's fun watching them start to play together more.

And of course, Lucy is funny. Chris and I were discussing our job options for next year and Chris said to me "But what would YOU do in Botswana?", at which point Lucy called out from the other room, "She'd sit under the table and eat craisins all day!" (btw, we're not moving to Botswana)
Last night I caught her sleepwalking, trying to climb into the trash to go to the bathroom. She had one foot in the bag and her underwear around her knees.
Here is a Lucy self-portrait:

While Lucy volunteers to sit out every game, I can't keep Theo off the field. When the games are over, he insists that he put on Lucy's shin guards and kick the ball around the field.

Also, please note that Theo has not grown into his ears.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Claire Photo Update

Thought I’d share some pictures of what I’ve been up to lately-

Some friends and I got together for a party, where we put a New York Times crossword puzzle on a sheet cake, then solved it.

It was really fun, and a little difficult to keep everything straight when working with a group.

But we finished it, and it was awesome.

Then we got to eat it! Too bad every crossword puzzle doesn’t end that way. Maybe I should email Will Shortz.

After that, we popped in an old VHS tape of Face Aerobics, which was hilarious. I fully plan on bringing this to the next beach trip.

Last weekend, I went to the snow with a group of friends. I decided, instead of sledding, I wanted to build a snow fort/igloo. I could only convince one friend this was a good idea.

But pretty soon, as the walls got to about waist height, more people got interested.

We worked on it for a couple hours.

And finally resorted to branches, for support, to complete the roof (because we were ready to go home).

It was pretty spacious inside. I wish I could go back now and check out how it’s holding up.

Finally, this week, I was able to mount the rastored art Rachel gave me for Christmas.

Looks pretty good, no?

Tough Love

Lucy and soccer has lately given me many opportunities to reflect. For example, why do I force her to play soccer, and then get frustrated when she acts exactly how I knew she would? Or, why does it bother me when she doesn't even know if her team won or not?
I also have recently been reading a book that Viv recommended called "Too Much Of A Good Thing", about not over-indulging your children. Sometimes I worry because
a) Lucy is 6 and still sleeps with us every night
b) We took our kids on a cruise
c) Lucy's favorite food is sushi
d) Lucy has almost no concept of the value of money

and I think perhaps the kid needs parents who are more willing to draw the line and refuse to buy Capri-Suns, if you know what I mean. Parents who would refuse to buy their kids a ride at the fair and just make them be grateful for that soggy piece of bread they found in their pocket on the drive home instead. Parents who won't buy beverages at the restaurant (because we have beverages at home), and who don't care if your sandwich is round when everyone else's at school is square. Parents like that. And somehow I have the suspicion that if Lucy had to buy her own candy or sleep in her own bed that she might begin to be weighed down a bit with the worries of the world and she'd get her head out of the clouds and stop flitting about the field and KICK THE DAMN BALL that's rolling right there, right past your feet, just look at it for pete's sake, that's all I ask, please look down at it just once...

So last Tuesday, when we were driving to Lucy's soccer game and she asked "where are we going?" and I said "soccer game" and she burst into tears, I was prepped well and good to force the issue. I had the speech all ready, about making a commitment to a team and sticking with it, about doing hard things, about exercise and discipline and about how we went and got Chris early from work for this and we are not going to turn the whole family around just because she's crying a little bit...but before I could launch into my lecture, I had to ask, "why are you crying?" And here's what she said:

"I'm crying because my best friend Antonio (tell me a story-o) is on the team that we're playing today. His team hasn't won a single game all year, and our team is a lot better than theirs (this is true, in fact), and I don't want to be on the team when it beats them and makes them sad. Can't we please just go home?"

Dang. Dang. WWBD? What would YOU do? Would you indulge this child?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

who's on first?

i dropped the kids off at school and waved to a friend on the way out of the parking lot. then on the way home, jack said, "what was that?"
me- what?
Jax - what was that?
me - what was what?
j- that!
me (exasperated) - jack! where? show me.
j- what was that lady you waving to?
me- o! WHO! WHO was that. is that what you mean? WHO was that i was waving to?
jack - I DON'T KNOW! you TELL me!!