Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!!

I'm a Foodie and proud to say it! You may be asking what that is... it's a 'club' of people who love eating and cooking good food, we are willing to pay for it. Sounds exclusive, but really it's not - it simply means we grocery shop at a small chain found only in TX known as Central Market HEB.

I was raised up to eat well, and Kent and I take great joy in fresh foods, homemade dinners and quality goods. Central Market is definitely on the high end of things, but it is so unlike any markets we've been to before. (Yes, better than AJ's, Wild Oats, etc.) This place is huge! They bring in over 25 different kinds of apples ... yes, that's just apples. I've never seen so many variety of tomatoes all in one place. And then there's the cheeses.... oh the cheeses! You find stuff hundreds of kinds from all around the world. Not only is there an amazing abundance of types of food, but they've arranged it so that it's a smorgasbord of color just waiting to delight the eyes!

All that glorious color just waiting to feed the eyes!

Tomatoes and avocados. I was furtively trying to capture the feel of this market on a busy Saturday. I'm sure people were like, "Who's the weird lady with camera!"

Their breads are amazing, and it feels so European to go there, sample and have your bread sliced just the way you want. Our very first try was White Chocolate, Apricot Bread. Isaac has never really liked bread, but when we went there to sample, the kid could not get enough. His palate is terribly spoiled.

Isaac and I went weekly, it was an outing for us. We wouldn't buy very much but the little we did was great. They always have tons of fruit, bread, juice and sausage samples. (better than Costco!) The bulk area is a must visit. We've had Lemon Blueberry short breads, chocolate covered blueberries and blackberries. We've tried their varieties of pilaf and grains. Our favorite is a rolled rye that we cook into a hot cereal for the week. 78 cents feeds a family of 3 easily! Just the other day we found a new section with 18-21 different types of salts: lava salt, hibiscus salt, Hawaiian salts, etc in lovely colors such as black, purple, and pink. I took just a little of 2 types to take back and try in AZ.

Isaac and I eat our 'snack' there (more like a lunch!), and he walks away with a balloon every time. Grocery shopping will never be quite the same again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parking Young

We love the parks here in Houston and we manage to go weekly to one of our favorites - Firetruck Park. Some of the wealthier areas take great pride in their parks, updating them, holding 'Grand Openings' and such stuff. As mentioned earlier, people often donate nice items that make the park the favorite play place for a child.

Firetruck Park is in one of the smallest cities called Southside locate in the heart of SW Houston and is comprised of 500 homes, all of monumental size as if each is trying to out do the other. The children who live there are all attended to by Nannies who have formed a rather obvious click, they bring lunch, chat all day while their charges are left to play with each other. Those who don't live in the area are rather obvious, mothers like I who stay at home and don't speak a lick of Spanish.

The 'other mothers' as we often say, tend to often talk and some of the conversations I've had were wonderful. It had been a long time since I have been able to have a deep conversation with a perfect stranger. The talk usually centers on our children, one woman told me of her battles with infertility and how finally they were blessed with the adoption of 2 children. Another told me of her adjustment with motherhood when she found out she was having twins. They've told me of the best areas for food and housing, discipline or teaching ideas, cheap fun for children and good babysitters. I often would walk away from these encounters renewed. I had spent so much of my time in ABQ alone that I forgot how people are more alike than we think. It's just learning to reach out in a friendly way.

I also love the way this park is so colorful and safe. Isaac's interests are in the simplest things. He can spend an hour shovelling, collecting and pouring rocks, or using the dump trucks they have there. We climb on large rocks, walk tight-rope style along ledges and of course we drive the fire truck with many loud 'beeps' and 'whee-woo, whee-woo' noises.

I've also been able to watch him tentatively reach out and make friends. He takes his time to observe and when another child notices, he's quick to smile and laugh with them. Sometimes he joins in to chase or they simply explore the leaves and rocks on the ground together. He tends towards girl as evidenced by the fact his two closets friends are Eden and Sierra - both older than him by a year. Not only is he a lady's man, he likes the mature ones! His enthusiasm is unbound when he sees them. He waved wildly to Sierra halfway across the congregation when sacrament was just beginning. With Eden he can't help but hug her when he sees her and take her hand as if to say, "come play with me!" The other day he wanted to play on the swings (somethings he's never wanted to do before) just so he could be near enough to smile and wave at a little girl. If only 'parking' could always be so innocent!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Moving Process

Today I received the biggest surprise ever! Typically when Kent says, I have a surprise for you it means ice cream. But all day long we've been packing or finishing up errands together so for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the surprise was. It was letters, tons and tons of letters from some of my most dearest and closest friends. The thoughts and sentiments you guys expressed we so kind and touching ... I cried of course ;0) ... which is also the reason you all are my 'Sisters' in every sense of the word. Thank you for the letters, thoughts and laughs. It was magic for me. I know, because the tension of moving and working melted away the moment I began reading. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful people all my life, no matter where I am that I am proud and privileged to know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now a word for my wonderful husband. I know the Lord knew what he was doing when he put us together. He knows me well, the good and the bad, and loves all of me. In the 5 years we've been together, we've been through alot and yet it has only served to strengthen us, make us appreciate our difference (and I can be pretty darn different sometimes!) and learn to communicate past our problems and see the individual behind them. It is one of my great blessings. Words are insufficient. Thank you my darling for being so thoughtful. May God continue to grant us the wealth of blessings found in a eternal marriage.

...(as I dry my tears yet again)... this moving process is going surprisingly well. I cannot believe how much can be done by two and a half people. Yes, two and a half! My darling Isaac boy tries his best. This morning he took his 'Tuck-ah, Tuck-ah' set in to help his Papa take down the crib. I'm sure it took longer than it would have if it were just Kent, but Isaac loved it! I'm sure by his second birthday he'll be asking for a tool belt so he can be just like Papa. Isaac also helps to push the boxes after Mama's done packing. You should hear the manly grunts that come from such a little body.

Isaac's room is completely packed, our room is as well except for 3 boxes that need to be sorted. We're living out of a suitcase and after tonight our necessary toiletries will be in just one bag. The kitchen is half way done, I'm cooking up a storm tonight, enough to feed us lunch and dinner in the coming 3 days. The truck arrives Wednesday, we leave Saturday. Yep, we moved it up a week and while it seemed insane at first, things have fallen into place. We'll be in AZ by the mid-afternoon of the 25. We will have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.

Packing things has produce more fun places to play than ever before! Peek-a-boo!

Kent took Isaac out for a bit so Mama could get some serious packing done. There's a great park nearbay in a wealthy area where they often donate unwanted toys. This things has been long sought after by Isaac.

"Whoa Nelly, check this thing out!"

"Hey, it even moves!"

"What the heck were we thinking, we should get one of these things to move boxes!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Sanctuary for Mothers

Sometimes the hardest thing about being a mother is learning to just 'be' in the moment. There are a million tasks that call for her attention, the most important being the children that she's been called by God to love and raise up unto him. It's rather overwhelming and I was overwhelmed ... at first. Then I discovered a secret to it. The times that my son loves the most, that I feel at peace with my role and my abilities is when I've become a child too. I can see things from his perspective (example: a messy moment is a moment of exploration and discovery), that growing up as a child is hard too (there's so much to do to be just like mom and dad, but my little body won't cooperate!) and that joy is found in the simple things like a flower on the wayside of our journeys of growth.

The first time we went to the Children's Museum, it was as if I'd found a time machine that brought me back to the wonders of childhood. The colors, the toys (some of which I hand to tinker with a while to figure out how they worked!) and most of all, the imagining and pretending. What a world we create when we are able to imagine! I had forgotten I had pretend to be faeries with my grade school friends. We created elaborate roles and went about rescuing and helping a world unaware of our existence. Joseph and I played 'camping' and kung fu movies where we'd solemnly face each other, bow and say the blessings words of a Buddhist monk.

Watching Isaac there, I realized that it's fun to go shopping, to see the colors, feel the textures and smell all kinds of foods. Driving is powerful, just the sheer ability of being able to go ... anywhere! Animals of all kinds, shapes, colors, sounds ... When I pause to see it from his point of view life becomes absolutely amazing and I find greater joy.

I loved going there with him, we went nearly every week. He learned things... I learned things and we did it together away from the chores and never ending tasks at home. I know for some moms, it was a chance to escape from the demands of a child, but for me, it was a chance to play again.

Tonight we went again, as a whole family, a rare opportunity.

Apparently from the months of Nov - Feb cultures around the world have huge celebrations - not just Christmas. The hall was lined with houses from around the world filled with play food for that culture, toys, instruments and ornaments. I finally know what Diwali, Kwanzaa, etc are about! If you look carefully behind Isaac and Kent, you see the rooftops of these houses.

They have a new section entitled 'Moneyville'. As a former math teacher, it's excellent, children learn the value of money, interest, how it's made and what was used in the past. There's even a machine to print money with your own pictures on it. We had tons of fun!

The Tot Spot is made for children just 2 and younger. Giant light switches, tons of balls of all shapes and sizes, a ramp with waves and steps to help with balance. You can pretty much play-test all the toys there to get an idea of what you child likes. Isaac's favorite is ALWAYS the car. He fills it up with gas over and over, drives along merrily wiggling his butt to some imagined song and loves honking the horn. There's power for you.

I can't help but miss this place and wish that I could take Isaac back for all the other things there, the make-believe newsroom complete with dress up clothes, the puzzle 'parlor', the mechanics area. I am grateful for the time here, more than anything because it reminded me of what it means to 'Be Young' and Alive.

Drum Roll Please!

It's official, we are moving back to Glendale, AZ! The interview with Maricopa went extremely well and at the end of it, they offered him the job, 'unofficially'. We worked out the details today.

It's a relief to know where we are headed finally, and in many ways I knew weeks ago. You see the Lord knows I have a hard time of letting go of things I grow to love. I cried buckets when I left my mission in Vancouver Canada, sobbed uncontrollably in spurts while in ABQ missing my Glendale friends (that might be due in part to post-par tum hormones though), and I'm sure I'll do the same when we leave Houston. That's why He tells me in my heart earlier to prepare me. I've been mourning the loss of many things these last few days ... "What will I do without ... how i"ll miss .... this is the best place for ..." So forgive me if my blog in the coming weeks seems to overly sentimental and I sound like an nostalgic eighty year old grandmother. These places will not mean much to you, but they breathed life back into me after a difficult year in ABQ

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Power of Words

So I don't know what it is about Isaac and language, but it's as if his speaking ability has appeared over night. He hears us say a word in a sentence and feels like he can and spits it out clear as a bell, it's effect ringing between us as Kent and I look at each other in disbelief. "Did he just say ...I thought I heard him say..." He generally never repeats the word and goes on as if nothing big happens. It certainly has made Kent and I a little more watchful of what we say. The ones he does repeat have become favorites such as blueberry (blu-blerry), down (Dow!), help (Hop!), apple (ahhhhhh-ple the 'ah' being held in ascending agumented tones, kinda like chinese opera) and Cha Sui (ta Sue). Obviously actions words and food are top priority as they tend to become a never ending chant until we respond the way he wants. He enjoys the power of the words and when I think back about being a child and how small I felt in such a big world, I'm glad for him.

He also love books and remembers them well, probably due to the fact that we read at least 30 minutes a day and it is the same books for the week. They end up playing a big part of his daily life. For example, today he found a small seed and he held it up. I reminded him of the book we read where they planted seeds to grow vegetables. He carefully held the seed and 'planted' it in a nice watery place since he knows all seeds need water to grow. When it rains now, he yells 'Ball!', which is from one of the Ruby and Max books where Max insists on playing baseball even though Ruby tells him it's raining outside. It's amusing to me the associations that he makes.

That reminds me, the other day Isaac and I visited the Roberts. Eden had me read a book to her about the tyranny of a lunchroom lady and how she abused everyone taste buds with burnt peas and turnip. The following day, our families went together for dim sum and the first thing they served was a pan fried turnip 'cake'. I was explaining to Emily what it was while serving up a small portion to Eden. This little girl does not miss anything and when I looked down she had the most horrified expression on her face. She was obviously disturbed and wouldn't touch it on her life. Isaac on the other hand, having no negative associations with 'turnips' kept gesturing to her plate, "Uh,uh..." as in, are you going to eat that? I had to laugh. It's a warning to me though, they may be small, but not much gets past them so I had better be carefully of what I read or say.

As to updates, Kent had his official interview with the Methodist hospital yesterday and it went well. It's not exactly what he wants though. Tonight he flies our to AZ and interviews all day Wednesday. He'll get back late Wednesday night. We shall keep you posted.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stuck on You!

Kent and I got to go to the temple today ... together!!! Yes, it's been a lllloooonnnnggggg time since that has happened. Between residency schedules, a boy's schedule, lack of babysitters we know, moving, etc. it's nice to have finally had time together. In fact there was this phantom presence in the backseat that I had to keep looking back at, just to make sure it was really empty. Thank you Emily Roberts... the time was well spent and appreciated!! Besides, Isaac absolutely adores Eden.

He loved the 'Isaac bear' that Eden gave him and was sure to give the bear a mini-blanket when he had his own.

Lately Isaac loves stickers and it's the one thing I can count on occupying him for longer than 20 mins. He's VERY methodical in how he plays with them. First you have to pull them off one by one, randomly place them on a piece of paper. When they are all stuck, you then pull them off and randomly place them on your arm. The cycle continues. His serious expression at the process just cracks me up. I striped him down once to see if he'd enjoy more 'sticking surface area'. My only problem is that now we find unsticky stickers everywhere ... diapers, ears, hair, floor, food.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Major Changes Up Ahead

I've been trying to write this post for days now and since there isn't any way to ease into this news, I think I'll just drop a bomb. Kent is leaving his residency and is looking for work, meaning we may be moving soon. Okay, now that the big part is said and done, I hope to stave off the rising sense of panic you as a reader might be having.

Since Kent's dad passed way, we've come to realize that there are many things that are more lasting and important in life. These things tend to get lost in the shuffle of day to day living and we had the opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities. Medical residencies suck the life out of you, and I have often felt a great deal of empathy for the wives, who are single moms in everything but name. Lucky for us though, residencies are not required for a pharmacist. Kent's first year residency enables him to work in the hospitals as a consult for doctors on drug treatments. A second year residency pretty much guarantees him any job he wants since he will have the experience of someone who's been in the field for 5 years - kinda like a condensed work experience. Trying to get things done around a residency is kinda like trying to get something past a firehose. Do-able, but painful. Apparently there is such a shortage of pharmacists that the competition is not as steep as we thought, and we were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of places that will take Kent with only a first year residency. This being the case, he spoke with his preceptor, and they have agreed to letting him go and have been very kind and generous as he has had to go for interviews during his final 2 weeks of work. Next week Friday will be his last week at MD Anderson.

This decision, as hard as it was for him, gave him a huge sense of relief when it was finally made. The last year was particularly exhausting and with dad's passing, the strain was a little too much. Kent has not had the time he'd like to have with both Isaac and I, and it shows. Just having regular work hours this last week has enabled Isaac to spend so much more time with him, and Isaac is thrilled to pieces. In the past he wouldn't respond as much to Kent, but lately he gets all excited and drags Papa around to see this latest 'project'. He's also available to help with things around the house, and it's nice to be able to know that we have a real weekend ahead. Most of all, Kent has time for himself, time to just 'be' and there is something very necessary in 'stillness' that somehow feeds the soul to enable a person to serve others.

So there are several interviews here with a few hospitals, The Methodist Hospital, St. Luke's in Houston, etc as well as one in Arizona with Maricopa County. I personally have many mixed feelings about where we end up. Frankly I'm tired of moving. It hasn't just been from AZ to NM to TX, the hurricane had us temporary move and there is always a time of adjustment afterwards until things feel settled. But at least the end to it is very much in sight. We shall keep you posted ...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fun, Fun!

So the update continues ... we have this great story time we attend about 20 mins drive from us. There are closer ones, but this one is hard to beat. It's right by Chinatown (hence a good excuse for shopping for all my favorite foods), we get to see Eden and Zia (Isaac's favorite friends from Albuquerque), and it's run by the best lady who does so much for the kids. For Halloween she baked them cookies and we had icing and candy to decorate. Isaac's exposure to refined sugar has been rather limited, so it was not too surprising when he kept looking at me to reassure himself that Mama was really going to let him eat that cookie, icing, candy and all.

We had to capture pictures of Isaac's playmates and friends:

We'd been prepping Isaac for the last few weeks about Halloween ... after all, it can be kinda freaky when all of a sudden your friends are sprouting horns and tails into all different kind of creatures! We read books, selected a pumpkin, etc and I carefully explained that everything is 'make believe' but not real. Maybe that's why he was so eager to wear his costume.

Two nights before the big 'Trick or Treat', he and Papa carved our pumpkin.

He was rather dubious about the whole process, after all, he had picked his pumpkin out several days before and was fond of rolling it around our living room. I suppose disemboweling his 'toy' can be rather disturbing. He was a little frighten of our 'Jack' for the first night, but reconciled himself to it in time for the big night.

The whole Trick or Treat was a cinch for him. We'd practice saying 'Hi' (not quite up to the real phrase yet), waving in an assertive manner, taking a 'treat' and placing it in the bag and finally saying thank you. He was primed for the part and even after having travelled the length of the parking lot for candy, he didn't want to stop. At one point a 'Superman' (about 6'5" in height) had trouble noticing Isaac amid all the other children. Isaac waited patiently, getting louder with each "Hi". When there was no acknowledgement, my son moved in front of a child to face the Superman head on. I swear he established eye contact and then waved his darling chubby hand. My son is not to be deterred once he really wants something!

If you can tell, Papa is wearing his scrubs, which I think was 40% of the adult costumes there. Frightening to think that all the medical residents think it is the scariest they can be - and they're making a living out of it!

I think this was his dance of victory! The nice thing about him is that when he has a full stomach, he doesn't really want the sweets, so a small bag of Swedish fish was sufficient.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a Lizard Thing

I made Isaac's Halloween costume ... did I say that? Yes, I really did make Isaac's Halloween costume and for those who know me, I sew straight lines, that's about it! I wanted a diversion from the Ike troubles and went looking early for a costume for Isaac. Unfortunately, costume makers assume that all people celebrate Halloween in a cold climate and the children begin to look like stuffed snow bunnies with elaborate appendages affixed. Besides, I wanted it to be something that Isaac could use again and again for fun without having to sweat buckets. I looked at Martha Stewart's website (did I mention I'm a new convert of hers! ) and found couple of great ideas that just needed tweaking. The tail and back scales are made so they actually attach to his PJ's. I bought the fabric to match them and you can't hardly tell except up close. The hat was trickier and took a bit of work to get it so it'd fit just right but in the end it was worth it. Isaac loved his costume, loved wearing it and even before it was finished he'd hug the tail like a body pillow. Will I do it again ... that depend a great deal on what time I have available, but I can say that I can do it, even if it's only once!

People kept asking if he was a dragon or a dinosaur, it's a lizard thing!

Online At Last!

For the last 2 weeks I had sudden urges to scream, my hands type the air furiously with no results and I feel a sense of floating, untethered to the world ... diagnosis: posting withdrawal symptoms!!!For what ever silly reason, our Internet has been down for nearly 2 weeks and I've been dying for news from the outside world not to mention my 2 journals/blogs. Yes, I suppose my blogs are a luxury and vanity... what else do you call it when you check daily to see if there are comments, as if the world would care to know the finite details of our lives. And yet it is the finite details that make people real and why I've missed hear all about you guys too! I'm back and oh what a whooper load of things to type. Forgive me if I overload you in the coming days and moments of free time. I'm BAAACKKKK!