Monday, December 29, 2008

New Anthology Publication!

I just received a copy of the "Labor Pains and Birth Stories" (edited by Jessica Powers). My essay "On The Day You Were Born, The Angels Got Together" describes the events and emotions related to my daughter's birth. I've actually waited 7 years for this book to be published!
I had taken my journal to the hospital, and had written details post-delivery. I written and submitted this story a few years ago. It was accepted quite easily, but the editor had a lot of challenges over the last few years. She ended up establishing her own publishing company. I'm really grateful for her perservance and passion for this book.
I read my story this morning and I was quite surprised to read certain details that I had forgotten. The most substantial part are the "new parent" anxieties that seem so foreign to me now. But, I'm happy these are documented down.
I received $50 for this story, which is the highest amount I've received for my writing. (Fine, I still need my day job!).
The anthology has various birth stories and I'm dying to read them. The book is available on Amazon, so check it out if you can. This will definitely appeal to new parents, old parents, wannabe parents.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ice skating in Bryant Park

Annika & I got a chance to skate in Bryant Park, NYC this weekend. She’s always wanted to skate in Rockefeller Center, but she conceded when she saw the lines and the crowd. When we stumbled onto the rink in Bryant Park, we decided to go for it. She’s skated a handful of times; I’ve thought about lessons for her, but it was hard to fit in our schedule.

I’m not a great skater after all these years (still not sure of how to stop without colliding into others). Now, attach 45 lbs on wobbly skates to my hip, and it’s a challenge. Because she was unsure I had to make sure I could hold her up. Remember in Superman where Lois Lane says to Superman “If you’ve got me, who’s got you?” Well, in this case, I’m no Superman or Kristi Yamaguchi and I have to hold onto the wall.
I’ve always thought the way a person learned to ice skate revealed their character. Years ago, my sister, cousin and I went to the rink. He’s an “engin-nerd” so he had his head down, analyzing how the skate moves, the degree and impact of each movement of the foot. My sister made her way right to the middle of the rink. She was unsteady, but she knew that’s where she had to go and would figure it out on the way. I stayed close to the wall. I don’t hug the wall, but skate away from it. However, I want to know I can fall back onto it if I need to. My husband is an excellent skater and goes for the speed around the rink, and you can't hold him back.
I loved Annika’s spirit – no fear, lots of enthusiasm. “Mommy, let’s get away from the wall. Let’s go to the middle. Step away from the wall, ok?” She fell a number of times, but I always had her hand. My right wrist was actually sore while we were skating because I had to hold her up so much. As much as I want to be there to support her, I can tell I'm holding her back where her spirit wants to go (even though her feet are going the other way).
After a few rounds, I was hot, exhausted and my feet hurt from the skates and right arm hurt from the extra 45 lbs. I sang along to the Tom Jones songs in the background, which I loved when I was her age. She said she was trying to glide to the music too.

However, I’m so happy we got to do this and she’ll remember it well.

P.S. I will look into the lessons this winter.

Opening Doors

At my office, there is a door separating the hallway and lunchroom. This door is security-enabled and a key card is required, which is not a big deal if you have one with you. This door has a fairly large portrait window so one can see who is on the other side up to the shoulder level.

I always have a cup of tea in the afternoon to give me a jolt through the last hour or so. I had my oversized mug of hot tea (Stash Chai Spice brewed with milk, filled to the top) and I was holding a notepad and pen in my other hand. I was walking towards the door, very steadily holding my cup in front of me. Two associates, “Jim” and “Mark,” appeared on the other side of the door. I waited a few steps away from the door, anticipating they would open the door for me. However, they were waiting for me to open the door so they could enter without using a key card. When I realized they were waiting, I decided I would go first. I managed to precariously open the door, keeping the mug in front of me, trying not to spill. They saw me with my hands full and said, “Oh!” Jim held the door open for me, allowing me to pass and we all said thanks to each other.

Ok, now you’ve read this far and are thinking, “Yeah, so what? You didn’t even spill the tea. What kind of blog is this?”

Stay with me on this one.

This incident reminded me of how we deal with others and our expectations. We can see each other through the window, but only half way. We can’t see the whole picture. They don’t know if I have a hot cup of tea in hand. I don’t know if they even have their key cards with them. Yet, we wait for the other person to make the first move, wanting them to accommodate our needs.

I could have stood there and refused to move with my hands full of my current responsibilities (i.e., hot tea, notepad), while Jim and Mark may not even have the capability to accommodate me (i.e., no key card). On the other side of the door, Jim and Mark probably are baffled by my slowness and it isn’t until I open the door do they see the whole picture on my side. If we all waited until the other moved, it would have led to frustration and unnecessary delays.

When dealing with others, we do have to make the first move sometimes. It isn’t until we open the door can we see exactly what the situation is on the other side.

- To N & R

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keeping up Pretenses

After 8 teeth, the Tooth Fairy is exhausted.

She's missed putting in the money, but Mr. Toothfairy stepped in with a nice dollar bill. But, he forgot to take the tooth, so Ms. Toothfairy came back with an extra dollar and a nice note. More recently, Ms. Toothfairy forgot again, but Mr. Toothfairy wasn't around. However, we determined the Toothfairy box was placed in a different spot, which confused her. So, the next night the box was placed in the correct spot, and two dollars appeared the next morning. Let's not talk about the time Ms.Toothfairy didn't have any singles in her wallet and had to dig around the house and car.

Ms. Toothfairy also has to hide the evidence of her contraband so there's a little tooth box to hold it. With 1-2, it was cute. Now, it's grisly.

When is the Ms. Toothfairy allowed to step down? She doesn't have to shell out for the molars too? Wisdom teeth?

I'm walking on eggshells around Santa. I think this may be the last year we have Santa. She's been asking too many questions. "Is Rudolf a real story? Did this really happen?" I almost blurted that it's not real, but then I caught myself. "Well, no one really knows what happened but this is what we think happens."

The challenge for me is that I want to give her straight answers. My husband is constantly teasing her. He will say one thing and she will turn and asks, "Is that true, Mommy?" And, I tell her the truth. Once we were in NYC when she was younger, and I made a comment about the rats in the subway. She asked if there were rats. Not wanting to cause concern, I said, "No, I was just kidding." She replied, "But you never kid." So, she's knows exactly when I'm kidding and when I'm giving her a correct answer.

Before I had a child, I thought the whole Santa experience was a terrible adult conspiracy against children, playing upon their innocence. Once I had a child, I jumped into the conspiracy whole-heartedly! I've always taken her to see Santa Claus at the mall, and she doesn't write letters because she figures she'll just tell him directly. After seeing "Polar Express", I found a jingle-bell on a string and I told her Santa left this. On Christmas morning, I actually knock over a few decorations to make it look like someone was there. I'll walk in, hands on my hips and say, "Can you believe it? Santa Claus made a mess!"

When she was three, she remarked on the wrapping paper. I quickly told her that Santa uses our wrapping paper, that seemed reasonable.

By the way, she and I decorated the house this year together and she was amazing. She came up with ideas that made sense and actually decorated the fireplace mantle by herself. I came back to straighten it, but it was great! A bow fell on the floor yesterday and my husband asked, "Where does this bow go?" and she replied, "On the bathroom door." We were amazed. My prediction is in less than 5 years I will not be decorating for Christmas, but she will. I was in wonder by the things she remembered about the ornaments and decorations - who gave it, I made it, did we always have it?

The excitement kids have about Santa and the Toothfairy is really amazing, and worth the effort. So, I guess I'll try to stay on my toes for just a little bit longer.

I do believe in Santa Clause and Fairies, I do, I do.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Motherhood Milestone

December 7, 2008 will be a day that lives on forever.
Annika ate peas - willingly!

I offered her a salad, and she dug into it. She avoided any lettuce with a hint of dressing, and started scooping up the "beans." She gobbled them up and went back to her pizza. She asked what kind of beans they were and I said "sweet peas." And, then she had a story about teachers planting sweet peas at her daycare years ago.

Here's the timeline of events:

0-7 years: cried, gagged (!), protested, negotiated and segregated green peas.

3 years: introduced her to raw sugar snap peas and that went well (sans dressing/dips).

5 years: introduced her to edamame with extra salt. I get the edamame in the pod and I steam/salt them. It's more rewarding to eat the bean after one has worked at it.

5-6 years: introduced frozen snap peas and it wasn't welcomed.

7 years: she ate the frozen snap peas without protest.

7 years: she ate the peas from my salad. These were frozen peas, which I microwaved for 1 minute and tossed in salad.
I'm really excited because it proves
1. You have to keep trying, even if it takes years.
2. Children eat what parents eat. Why should a child eat vegetables if parents do not?
3. Food marketing works. Two key words have been "sugar" and "sweet," which helped promote this vegetable.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Disney Hangover

So, my sister, daughter and I went to Disney over the Thanksgiving weekend. Our first trip was around my daughter's 3rd birthday and she loved it. She wore her princess t-shirts, chatted with all the princesses and cowered from the villians. She did have a wild breakdown during the fireworks and dark theaters, leaving both of us traumatized for years.

Now she's 7 and perfect for Disney experience. She definitely enjoyed the weekend.

My sister and I indulged her at the Bippidi Bobbidi Boutique. Yep, we splurged for the make up and the princess gown, and she worked it! She strolled and twirled through Disney in her red Belle dress. We figured this is a once in a lifetime experience. She was thrilled with the hair extensions they gave her. I haven't been too thrilled with the excess glitter that is still on her scalp, 4 shampoos later! (Note to others: If you do this, you can make a reservation, but they do accept people at the door, though you may need to wait. Also be sure to bring your own costumes. And, if you'd like an alternative experience, just do the hair, make up and glitter at your hotel and let the girl parade around all glammed up. I was really surprised how comfortable she was in that costume all day.)

Annika had a blast collecting autographs from "celebrities" like the Princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Stitch. She was thrilled out of her mind to bump into Aladdin and Jasmine in Epcot's Morocco exhibit. On the way out of the room, she went back up to Jasmine and told her "You're my favorite princess." The "princess" looked really touched and said "Aww! Thank you."

In the meantime, the whole Disney experience is overwhelming and surreal at times. People are genuinely nice, happy and polite. No one cuts in line for a ride or pushes to meet a character. Someone accidently bumped into me and my backpack, and he apologized profusely with a big smile on his face. I looked at him perplexed. Was he sincere? Why did he bump into my bag? Is this a scam?

One also has to step away for a minute and take a wide angle look at the Disney World. It seemed rather cultish at times with grown people walking around in mouse ears. And, it's not so much the mouse ears, but the way you can express yourself with the variety of mouse ears. One can be a princess, pirate, snowman, Goofy, Dumbo, whatever and still have ears.

It goes without saying everything is overpriced in the park. I couldn't find Annika a simple keychain under $6. (We reminded her that the costume/make over was her souvenir!) And, do not even get me started on the overpriced tickets! It's really sad that they've overpriced themselves out of the reach of average families. For a family of four, the non-resident, 3-day multi-park tickets would be over $1000. Have to ask if this is what Walt Disney anticipated?

So, it seems the Cult of Disney is "give us your money, we'll give you a tiara or ears." Anyway, we were ready to join the cult.

We enjoyed ourselves in Epcot's world countries by indulging in nachos in Mexico, Presseco and a rich red wine in Italy, and finishing off with a cafe au lait and pastries in France.

Couple of hints for future Disney recruits - skip a parade or the fireworks exhibit, and run to the rides. We jumped into "The Pirates of Carribean" with no lines! The best experience at Epcot was "Soarin", but the key is to get there early or grab a fast-pass for it. We waited 1 hour, but heard it can be up to 3 hours.

The Cinderella castle was absolutely breathtaking with the Christmas lights and decorations. I really felt as if I could stand there and just look at it all day. I've never seen anything like this before and it was incredible. There is something about this place that merges childhood fantasies and stories, allowing an escape into those corners of our minds and actually making them real.

While my daughter dreams of being a princess, I'm dreaming of a nice job at Disney. Running the "Small World" ride seems so much fun - just smile, wave to the people and say "Step out to the left. Step out to the left."