Monday, July 28, 2008

Feels Like Home

Houston feels like home. I know that sounds rather surprising to those who knew how much I missed Phoenix, but it's true. I felt it within the first week we moved here. It has alot to do with the fact that for once in my life, I'm not a minority. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a 'real' majority here. Everywhere you go, faces and cultures mix and mingle - Black, Hispanic, White, Asian, Middle Eastern - at times one is more than the other, but it never seems as if one dominates in all situations. Mixed marriages are common and no one seems to think it odd that Kent married a chinese girl.

Added to this is the fact that all my chinese food is here - fresh, cheap and astonishingly good!! I think I was rather homesick for my culture; my lunches are an indication of it. For this last while, Isaac and I have had everything from winter melon soup, fish and rice, to rice noodles and veggies, mung bean and taro popsicles, fresh lichee, etc. Rather fancy when you compare it to just sandwiches. And what's more is I made it all myself! I take joy again in cooking things I miss.

To top it all off, there is just so much to do here. Isaac and I already go to the library and children's museum once a week. I have a church playgroup, and then there are the parks, free concerts and plays, gardens and zoo, all within 10 minutes drive. In the times we've visited, we have only seen a tiny part of Hermann park. The place is so family friendly and beautiful, I'm kinda set on going to it every Sunday. Isaac had a wonderful time yesterday, and Kent managed to capture it on film.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Calling on all Experienced Mothers ...

So Isaac and I went to the Children's Museum today with Lynette Forbush in our ward and her 2 kids. Typically when we've gone before, Isaac plays pretty independently of us, enthralled with all the 'new' toys but today was a different experience. There was a child just a few months older than Isaac there with his father. As soon as he came in, he ran straight to Isaac and grabbed a toy out of his hand. Isaac began wailing. The boy's father apologized and handed the toy back to Isaac but everytime the child (Omar) came near us, Isaac was clearly afraid and would whimper. Omar, a big kid for his age, had been face painting at first and had a 'beard' on, so the father thought it was that and wiped it off. It still didn't settle Isaac and Omar seemed to 'thrive' on being near us. Eventually I moved with Isaac to another part of the room but it was inevitable that Omar would find us. Isaac would see him, register that he was near and cry for me or cling to me. It got to the point were the child didn't even wait for Isaac to see him, he'd simply yell at him and take what he wanted. By this time, the father had given up, he'd yell from a distance to Omar to 'give it back' but otherwise seem to find the situation amusing. I did not. I didn't want to coddle Isaac each time, but to give him the chance to face the problem himself. I stayed nearby and when he'd start to cry I'd call out to let him know I was near, but that he would be okay but his response did not change.

In the past, when other children have taken his toys there's a pattern that develops. Usually he cries the first 2-3 times, eventually he gets mad and scratches them. Of course I tell him to say no loudly, but not to scratch. If it continues, he begins to take 'preventative measures' and will growl fiercly if the child approaches near him, then scratch or hit. Abbey's son, Clayton can attest to this. ;0) But this time it was different, Isaac was somehow truely afraid of this other boy from the onset. How do you reassure your child, while not rescuing him from everything that is unpleasant? How do you teach them appropriate ways to stand up for themselves, especially when they are so young? I'm a little concerned that this may be a pattern. Until now, we haven't had much interaction with other children or their parents.

Speaking of which I too, am struggling to know how to deal with other kids. I guess I'm use to attentive parents who watch and teach their children. While we were there, I was reading a book with Isaac and a 1.5 year old boy came up and grabbed the book. Initially I said, sorry, but that we were reading first. He hung on and eventually began yelling. By this time Isaac had lost interest and since I wanted to prevent a scene from occuring, I let the child have it. (Could you envision an adult have a tug-of-war with a child yelling at the top of his lungs...) It bothers me a little since there was no parent around and I feel it sends a wrong message to both the child and Isaac. What should I have done?

I guess I'm in a bit of a quandary, I love having other mothers and their children around, but I'm seeing more and more how difficult it can be at times to teach my son while there are so many other 'examples' around him. It makes the teaching harder and more real. I also see clearly the 'heirarchy of playground psychology' at work and worry a little for my son. Needing all experienced mothers to give a word of advice ...

Isaac enjoying his first mung bean popsicle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Technology Woes

So whenever we go to Best Buy, Kent always jokes and points to some gianormous flat screen TV and says, "We'll take one of those!" It's become a joke with us since we haven't had cable since ... EVER ... and our TV was the free one I took with me from my parent's home back in 2001. Keep in mind, my parents were never what you called, "Up and with technology". We only got a touch tone phone when they realized I couldn't register for classes when I started college! I would bet you anything they still have their rotary phones! Needless to say, this TV served your basic needs, but that was all we really ever wanted. Neither of us has much time for TV and I prefer reading anyways. But it is our only source of entertainment and we wanted it to last until our 'moving' days were done. Alas, it was not to be and in this last move, we discovered a extremely loud buzzing noise that increases with the brightness of the pictures. If all movies were filmed at night in low lighting, we wouldn't have a problem ... but since we got a netflix membership and are watching all our old childhood movies, we were rather disappointed. We read the subtitles for the last movie and while that's a great way of combining my reading with our entertainment, it does get a little tiring. ;0) So Kent did some research and we now take the time to bid fond farewell to the old, and welcome in the new!

Unfortunately, after we hooked it up, a buzzing sound still remains. We think it might be the DVD player ... it's off to Best Buy we go ... AGAIN!

Monday, July 21, 2008

No Touchy!!!!!

With so much going on I haven't had the chance to talk about the 'leaps and bounds' Isaac makes daily. It makes me stop sometimes and wonder if I too am 'working' at growing just as much as he.

The move has been so much to adjust to. He's been a trooper, but it is wearing and it shows in more 'grouchiness' than usual. In the last few days, with more of a home, Isaac is showing his usual "I'm a big boy" attitude and cautiously trying out his newer skills. Just yesterday he was distracted by a toy, and I let go to have him stand by himself. It was a definite full 3 seconds before he seemed to realize what he was doing, then all of a sudden it's - "Whoa nelly, I think I'm better off on my knees" - and plops down on all fours with a sigh of relief. It's obviously more about confidence right now than skill ... something I think most people can all relate to.

Houston's been wonderful!!! I feel 'at home' already and Isaac
and I went on our first excusion together to the library downtown today. Houston is teeming with life - from every culture, to all types of people from all walks of life, to the tons of insects and animals (we saw a frog downstairs from our apartment and other not so pleasant bugs) all the way to the microscopic mold spores that latch on with a tenacity you wouldn't believe. I'm thriving off of it - the people here are friendly and extremely willing to help (even if the city is just to big and they don't have a clue where things are, they like to 'try' to help) or just to smile.

Isaac is a little more cautious. While we were in Albuquerque, our son just could not get use to African Americans. He'd stare so hard at them and then wailed if they glanced in his direction. I started looking for books and magazines with pictures of blacks in it to help - after all, what the heck would we do once we got to Houston! It's paid off, and now he shyly glances at them and smiles when they wave and smile back. All except once today when an older gentleman got on the lightrail. The fellow had an extremely strong 'black' accent and he kept chatting with Isaac at an incredible pace. My poor son had that confused expression, where his forehead begins to wrinkle and slowly an eyebrow rises higher and higher until it disappears into his bangs. Then all of a sudden the gentleman tickles Isaac's toes ... well that did it! The floodgates broke loose, my son buried his head in my lap and the sound of a screaming rabbit ensued. For those who don't know, rabbits do scream and it's the more horrifying, high pitched sound you've ever heard! Anyhow, nothing could console him and we had another 15 mins of the ride to go. The man was obviously embarrassed and after a few minutes, offered to find another seat since, "I think I've scared the boy". My son recovered only after the man got off the train. No touchy!!!

Here's us in the Carlsbad Caverns, and my son destroying a national treasure while Kent was trying to pose for a picture ... whoops! (From Kent: He wasn't actually touching the stalagmite)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Houston at Long Last!

Ssssssssssooooooooooooo .... we're alive!!! For the last week and a half, our emotions have run the gamut ... excited-apprehensive, wildly energetic (adrenaline highs) to exhaustion mentally, emotionally and physically. At long last I can say we're starting to feel settled.

We owe many, many thanks to friends all around. Thank you Dana Erikson, a 'jack of ALL trades' and helped us get our home fixed and saved us and our tenants numerous times. We're lucky and blessed to have you as a neighbor in Phoenix. To the Bakers ... our official 'hang out', (especially when running errands or needed to gripe) ... you entertained our son and kept us sane - for several days! To the Johnsons ... loved your lunch and have had it 4 times since, thanks for visiting with us. To the Laws ... take-out with you was the BEST!!! EVERYTHING was PERFECT and it was the one healthy meal we had before we finally made it to Houston. Thank you Darin and Preston for helping with the final move out ... we couldn't have done it without you guys. Thank you Roberts ... who were here to welcome us to Houston and bring us a wonderful dinner. Finally, thanks to those who came out from the Maplewood 2nd ward ... not only did you successfully move in everything ... to the third floor, lifting and carrying from nearly a quarter of a mile away, in the Houston humidity ... everything was in one piece! From the bottom of our hearts, Kent, Isaac and I give all of you our thanks.

Admist all the craziness, we enjoyed seeing the Carlsbad Caverns, swimming in a 'posh' hotel pool and hot tub, taking a boat tour down the River Walk in San Antonio, and taking a break at the Children's Museum. The long 'vacation' is at an end ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

While He Was Sleeping ...

I know I just posted earlier today, but I just couldn't resist. Our time here in New Mexico has taught us that we can't always count on help from our ward. Self sufficency has become our motto, hence all the prep work I've been doing this last while. Kent still has to work 10 hour days and thus far, only our hometeacher, Darin Law, is able to help us move Wednesday night.
With so little time and so much to do, I resolved to do everything I could to help. Soooo ... all the boxes you see in this picture and a few more, I myself (little-ole me at 125lbs) moved them all into our truck in the hour Isaac napped! With my trusty red dolley and 'weight lifting muscles' I moved boxes of books, kitchen items and clothes. I am WOMAN, hear me ROAR!!!

Gratitude for the Big Things (and Small Things)

ABF brings the moving truck today and as I've been preparing, I've felt a sense of gratitude for the changes this year that will make the move so much better. Last year this time, Isaac was only 3 weeks old. I had a very difficult labour (4 hrs of hard pushing - someone got stuck!) and was rather overwhelmed and enamoured by the whole initiation into motherhood. One moment I'd be thinking, "God has given me a miracle - what an incredible joy!", the next thing it would be, "What the heck have I gotten myself into!" We had no family help (Kent's family were too far away)and we were very dependant on Bellair ward (which I still think is one of the best wards I've ever been blessed to be a part of!) I thought I had packed everything as much as I could before labour, but I was wrong. Thankfully we had friends to help pack and load, feed us. On our way out to Albuquerque, Kent got sick, so he unloaded our boxes living on Gatorade for over a 48 hour period. I helped as much as I could with a screaming newborn. We were both sleep deprived and mentally and emotionally exhausted.

This year, I've truely packed everything I could beforehand and have even cooked meals to last us through this few days before we leave Thursday. Isaac is 13 months old and is such an angel, allowing me the time to pack and clean while he plays on his own. As long as I spend quality time with him for 10-15 mins every 2 hours, he does great! We're headed to an area where we already know people who are willing to help us unload and best of all, Kent and I are not sleep deprived. This will be a much better experience!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fun and Games for Old and Young Alike

Sometimes I think we're all just big kids inside, if we could just let go for the moment and enjoy being 'alive'. Today we went to Jake's ... it's an all you can eat buffet plus games and rides. Isaac had fun, but I think Kent and I enjoyed ourselves more!

Here's Kent on the 'Hopper' ride ... the biggest kid of them all! Unfortunately, the combined weight of him and all the other children made it too much for the ride. He had to get off and by the time the children got done, the line grew too long behind, he felt too guilty taking the time and pleasure away from the other kids so he had to forego the game! ;0)

Isaac rode on a train again for the second time in his life. Likewise with the carousel. Not too responsive. The chocolate teacups were better!

Isaac's favorite was the kid's city, play area. Stairs facinate him and he could have spent all his time there.

Kent did some rock climbing ... he claims the sweat and heat made it difficult ... you may draw your own conclusions!

We played some other games that won tickets for tiny trinket for Isaac. The food was pretty good (for pizza, pasta, salad and dessert - this coming from an Asian!) It's kinda costly but we're glad we did it.

Yesterday we went to the Wildlife Zoo ... it was rather ... hmmm, how should we say .... STUPID! It was nearly 113degrees, so needless to say, we hurried through alot of it. We did get to feed the giraffes and lorakeets .... Isaac loved the monkeys and was intriqued with the animals in the petting zoo.