Friday, August 31, 2007

Things that make you go 'arggghhhh'!

Yesterday I took the camcorder out for a long overdue session to capture some of my baby's antics on tape.

However, this little snippet is brought to you courtesy of my not yet three year old.

It is what exasperates and thrills me about parenthood, all at the same time.

This should also serve as ample evidence as to why I do not take time to video her brother on a regular basis (since that would mean focusing entirely on him for more than a nanosecond, and meaning my eyes are not on Miss E for said nanosecond!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eternal sunshine of a distracted mind?

Or, a drastic case of mommy brain? Whatever it is I don't like it!

Congratulating myself on managing to take a shower while both kids were awake, and out of my arms reach (always a dangerous scenario), with no injuries sustained, I was feeling all smug and clean, here at my computer conveniently ignoring the laundry, the dishes and the unmade beds.

Until I discovered that I have only shaved one leg!

Someone please tell me that this is because I am a mother of two small kids, both of whom have me up at least once a night (and never at the same time, so I'm actually up at least twice a night)? Or am I doomed to a lifetime of embarrassing forgetfulness?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Latina Wannabe

My next door neighbours are from Puerto Rico. They live in their garage! (Well, not quite, but their garage is set up like a studio apartment, complete with entertainment unit, table, sofa, kitchenette, gas stove and a bathroom. They spend a lot of time in this garage. Don't ask me why, I've given up trying to figure it out.)

My Puerto Rican neighbours love our kids and take any opportunity to come and say hello to them, or call us up to the garage to hang out for a few minutes. Miss E had taken to calling their home 'my little granny's house' and so we have christened my lady neighbour 'Abuelita', and she is thrilled.

Recently, on a visit to the garage, we were sitting chatting, me using my best 'Spanglish', and Abuelita using her best 'Espan-english' and as is our form, we manage to bumble along in some sort of conversation, assisted periodically by sign language of sorts, or as a last resort, interpretation from her husband. I heard her mention 'sofrito' - a culinary seasoning I had only just recently read about on Flamenco Mom's blog and I was intrigued and asked more about it. Next thing I know I have an appointment made to appear at Casa de Abuelita at 11am the next day to learn how to cook with sofrito!

With Baby J in the stroller, (to contain him), and Miss E armed with her bubbles - (to keep her occupied, didn't work), we set off for my cooking lesson. Abuelita chittered away her instructions in Spanish, while her obliging if reluctant husband stayed nearby to translate anything I couldn't figure out.

An hour later, despite having practically melted standing by a gas stove, in the semi-outdoors in 96 degree heat we sat down inside the house, to a lovely lunch of rice with vegetables and meatballs. Since these neighbours spend so much of their time in the garage, the inside of their home is immaculate and furnished with very expensive looking, elaborate, white furniture. So while the lunch was tasty, it was far from a relaxing meal as I anxiously watched Miss E drop pieces of yellow rice on the place mats, and periodically take off to explore the rest of the house.

My attempts at exercising anything resembling parental control over her were futile and culminated in my having to physically remove her from Abuelita's master bathroom walk in closet! But they love her, so they smiled sweetly and said 'no es nada' (or at least I think that's what they said?)

Abuelita has given me a package of her homemade sofrito to use at home and I will be making another latin dish for dinner tonight - Carne Guisada. Curious about other recipes using sofrito, I googled sofrito and turned a great recipe up for what is essentially beef stew. Now, Irish people take their stew seriously - but I'm looking forward to having some with a little latin flair tonight. If it turns out good, it will be another string to my culinary bow, and something else to offer visitors and fool them into thinking I'm the next Delia Smith!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stress is good for my house.

I have been tackling all manner of housekeeping duties in recent days, and the result is:

  • A house that is clean and tidy, in every room, and every closet.
  • Home baked muffins and bread (two french loaves going in the oven this morning).
  • Wholesome meals from scratch breakfast, lunch and dinner (no frozen or pre prepared junk here!)

Anyone who really knows me will know that while I can keep a house reasonably tidy, I am by no means fanatical about it and, a) it doesn't last long, and b) it will be either a clean house or the cooking - not usually concurrently.

All this in the name of keeping myself so busy that I don't have time to worry about Baby J. It works to an extent, but you know I can't help having those fleeting moments of worry (okay, sometimes not so fleeting). I flip-flop from focusing on how well his understanding of language is developing, his babbling and his obvious ability to hear, and focusing on his 'issue' as something that may be minor, to panicking that it is not something minor.

We have seen the ENT specialist, for all of 10 mins, only enough time for him to scan the audiology reports and concur that there is cause for concern and for him to order CT scans and blood tests.

So, more waiting. More uncertainty. More fear.

We go next week to the Children's hospital for these tests.

I do oddly feel more settled about my ramblings on whether or not to return to work, or to move house. God has a way of bringing what's important in life into sharp focus and suddenly all those trivial things mean nothing. I know the best place for me is to be at home with my kids right now, and I can't imagine the additional stress of having to take Baby J to see all his 'Ologists' while working at the same time! The aesthetics of our house, or in fact where we make our home, seem so unimportant now, too.

To those of you whom have asked for updates - that's where we are, no further on really, just more waiting. But hey, at least my house is clean!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New and Improved Blooming Marvelous!

Welcome to my new look blog. I hope you love it as much as I do.

A much needed breath of fresh air around here, since the dark colours, and my moody posts have been a bit depressing of late.

Big thanks to my ever so talented brother for pulling this together for me. Without his help I would be stuck with a boring Blogger template - because you know, I am after all a stay at home mum, and am too cheap to actually pay someone to design and install a template for me! As for doing it myself - forget it.

With a name like 'Blooming Marvelous' it would have been a travesty not to have a flower in my banner, no? These are not just any flowers. They are Frangipani, or Plumeria, blooms.

My parents had Frangipani plants in their garden in Africa. I heard a lot about them and their fragrance growing up as they were referenced in photos and tales told of our time in Zambia.

On one of her visits to us here in Florida, my Mum bought me 4 Frangipani cuttings, and 3 of them are thriving shrubs in my back garden now. One sadly had a losing battle with the lawnmower! We actually have one identical to the picture, and it is the most fragrant of all.

Coming from Ireland, the colour scheme of green white and gold, is a nice patriotic nod to home.

I am still settling myself in, and will spend some time (just as soon as I find it - time that is) shuffling things around until it feels just right. For now though I have to say this is pretty darn comfy, and puts a smile on my face.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some days it's hard to be a Mom.

After another trip to the Audiologist with Baby J, today hasn't started off well for us.

Back when I wrote this, we were looking at a mild deficiency, a hearing loss at 4000 htz (higher frequency) on Baby J's left ear.

Today the Audiologist is concerned because he's showing the same deficiency in his right ear. A change. A detrimental change.

I'm trying hard not to, but can I tell you that I am FREAKING out here? My head is spinning with questions - 'why is this happening?', 'what is causing it?, 'is it going to get worse?', 'is it going to get better?', 'is it just going to stay the same?' - questions that may be answered by an ENT specialist. A specialist that the Audiologist recommended we see when she last tested J in May.

Through a series of communication snafus we have only just managed to schedule his appointment with the Pediatric ENT specialist for next week. Three months since his last appointment and we're only getting around to it now.

Complacent in my 'it's only a minor issue' attitude, lulled into a sense of security by the Pediatrician and the Audiologist herself who claimed that a moderate loss on one specific frequency is nothing to be very concerned about - he'll probably do just fine, I didn't stay on top of the evidently incompetent support staff at the pediatrician's office, and so all these weeks went by without me questioning why they hadn't scheduled the ENT appointment for us. Maybe I just wanted to fool myself that he was fine, we'd get to it soon enough, and he'd turn out to be fine.

Procrastination has bitten me in the ass and I want to smack myself because this time it involves my son's health and that's a bloody serious thing for me to be so damn complacent about.

Did you know that hearing loss is the number 1 birth defect in the USA? So I'm told by the Audiologist. And my son has it - a defect. I hate medical terms. Defect? He's not defective! He's my beautiful, happy, loving, baby boy!

After telling me she didn't like the readings she was getting in the right ear, and recommending that we have him undergo another sedated ABR test (he'll be put to sleep so they can monitor brain response to auditory stimuli - for the third time!), the Audiologist looks at me and says,

'Mommy, I don't want you to be real worried about this'


You tell me that his hearing is now affected in his right ear - which was perfect up until now - and my mind is racing wondering if he's going to have progressive hearing loss, I feel physically sick to my stomach at the possible scenarios, and I am afraid, scared of what is unknown about what's going on with him and you tell me not to WORRY?

Sorry, I haven't mastered that particular skill yet - he's 10 months old - I will worry every waking moment and then some!

We see this ENT guy next week - for tests, examinations, head x-rays and blood work. More crap and procedures to put him through. We will also talk about the genetics of it all, apparently. Confused about the genetics element I asked the Audiologist was this just to determine family history (which we've given, in detail and there is no significant family history of hearing loss in either family!), is it for genetic counseling? She responded and said no, that it was to determine if he has a 'syndrome', of which hearing loss is only one element. Kids with these 'syndromes' can have eyesight problems, kidney problems, other physical issues - I think I wanted to throw up right there - I think I still might.

My husband is telling me to relax and wait to see what Monday brings. To think positive thoughts and not necessarily focus on all the potential negatives. It's hard - again it's because I can't stand not knowing - I need information, and while I have learned my lesson the hard way in the past that searching the internet for this information is a BAD idea - I really, really want to - I want to know, now!

More than all of that, I just want someone to tell me that he'll be alright - that it'll all be just fine.

Nobody can.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Getting to know you...

Baby J bonding with his Uncle.

Go have a look at these other great Wordless Wednesday participants.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mommy Blogger Initiation

When I started this blog in April, I didn't envision it fitting in any particular category. However, since I am a Mom, have young kids, and write about my current experiences - I think it is safe to say that I am a Mommy Blogger.

What this Mommy Blog is sadly lacking though are stories of poop and farts - requisites I believe to be considered a real mommy blogger. There is no rule that I know of that these have to be my children's poop and farts, is there?

So, without further ado, let me initiate myself into the world of true Mommy Bloggers.

While at Lowes last weekend, scouting out items for our growing list of home improvement 'to dos', and torturing ourselves looking at granite counter tops we can't afford, I got that tell tale feeling that I needed to, you know, go. And not just for a quick pee if you know what I mean. You have to know that I hate using public bathrooms, I hate even more having to poop in a public bathroom.

Since my husband had that look of abject terror on his face at the prospect of managing both kids and a shopping cart (I mean imagine - what a terrible scenario that would be - how he thinks the groceries get done and the pantry and fridge fill up is beyond me!), I took Miss E to the bathrooms with me.

I brought her into the stall, and gave her the usual lecture about standing still and absolutely not touching anything in there. So I set about my business and Miss E is getting all the more curious - poking at the toilet roll dispenser, the disposal unit for 'you know what' ladies, unlatching the door (my growling remonstrations ensured she did not open said door), and finally crouching down so she can look at the feet of all the other ladies relieving themselves. And there were a lot of ladies.

When the surrounding stalls were suitably occupied, Miss E then shouts (she hasn't quite mastered the art of the 'inside voice' yet), "Mommy, *sniff, sniff*, what's that smell? *sniff, sniff* - Ewwwww, Mommy! - You did STINKY POO.

You can bet I washed up and hightailed it out of there, pronto - carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone in the process.

Sharon at Pinks and Blues girls wrote this post about ladies, and ladies' bathrooms. Go read it, I'm sure it will strike a chord with most moms, and women in general. She is also running a contest for your potty stories to win fun goodies - you 'gotta go' and check it out and enter!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Scourge of Itchy Feet

As I said, I have been feeling unsettled lately. A variety of issues contribute to this, some of which will fester on for a while I suspect.

Back when I wrote this, I anticipated a state of flux as my husband figured out what he wanted to do, work wise. He pushed his boss on letting him take over his department and through a series conversations, they determined that right now, this is not a wise move. Fine by me, since I wasn’t that keen on it in the first place – way too many ‘what ifs’ for my liking. However, because I had myself steeled for change, I have now found it difficult to settle my head again.

Instead, I have been going through something that happens from time to time – a desire to move, to change, to do something different. I periodically get the urge to move house. Much as I hate to say it, this is because I have never really felt like this house is my home. My husband found this house, with his mother’s help while she was here on a trip to visit him, over six years ago. It was a model home in a new subdivision. It’s a very nice house – but I didn’t choose it. However I try to rationalize that attitude as being ridiculous, and try to convince myself that it is my home – it just doesn’t feel like it is my home. And so, I go through all the real estate listings, to see if we can find another home for our family, one that we will seek and find, together.

Then the frustration enters because, while I am not in love with this house, I’m not foolish enough just to sell, pack up and move to any old place. It has to be somewhere better, in a great neighbourhood. And so the rationalizing begins again – this is a great neighbourhood and there are few in our price range that can match it. On top of this consider the fact that in this part of Florida the housing market is D.E.A.D. Our neighbours' houses have been on the market for over a year, and so to the mix you add a whole big helping of uncertainty and a dash of fear that we could find our dream home and not sell our own to help us reach it. A recipe for more frustration no doubt.

In an attempt to ‘fit’ more into my current home, I am currently obsessed (and no, that’s not too strong a word for it) with changing it. Changing it so that it doesn’t resemble the house that I moved into. I want to change the outside, I want to change the kitchen, and I want to change some of the furniture. Luckily, my husband is 100% on board with these changes so our current vision is to slowly tackle these and work our way through some home improvements, focusing on those that will add value to the house so that if we do decide to sell, we will have some extra buyer appeal built in.

The other issue that has my head spinning lately is the whole ‘Stay at Home vs. Return to Work’ debate that I have with myself. I have been out of the workforce for almost 5 years! When I moved to the States, I never anticipated being away this long. While overall I feel that being at home with my kids benefits them, and me, in these early years, that niggling voice ‘what about work, your career, the compensation?’ gets louder at times and has me wondering whether going back wouldn’t be better right now. Then I question ‘How do I get back’? How do I make myself attractive to a prospective employer now that I’ve been out of the corporate marketing loop for five years? Then I get agitated because I fear that the world of work, as is widely touted, will not look favourably on a mom attempting to return to the workforce – because on paper it will look like I have done nothing of substance in the last five years.

I know this is not true – I have carried and nurtured my babies, I teach them and love them. These are achievements of the utmost importance to me and are most certainly substantial. I have not let my mind shrivel up and die either, and I know that I have the capacity to gear up and hit the ground running in a work environment again. When is the right time to do this though? While my kids are still small? Before I am out of the workplace so long that prospective employers will right me off? After I undertake ‘refresher’ study of some sort?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and it’s killing me.

Then I ask myself a whole new set of questions: What is motivating this desire to return to work? Is it the need to use my career skills? Is it the need for something more challenging than nappies (diapers) and baby food? Is it the need to prove myself? Is it the money?

I suspect the answer to these questions is ‘all of the above’ and that kills me, too.

Why can’t I content myself with where I am now? Why can’t I realize that I have it pretty good, and certainly a hell of a lot better than many? Why can’t I be present in the most joyous time of my life so far? To relish in these early years with my children? To live each day to the fullest? To be SATISFIED?

I. Don’t. Know.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Mini Milestone

This is my fiftieth post!

I'm feeling very unsettled these days. My head is spinning with many issues, some fairly decent and others of no consequence whatever. This happens me from time to time, and this is why I have not been blogging much lately. Once I sort through a few things and get to the point where I can articulate how I'm feeling about a number of things, I'll write about them. Since I'm not at that point yet, I'll leave you with a few of my favourite posts, especially for any new readers stumbling across this 'blooming' blog of mine!

The Best Laid Plans
Equal, but different
Pass me a beer, please
Birthday List
Our Irish Adventures