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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The world is scary, pass me my iPhone

I've been thinking a lot lately about the whole technology distraction topic. I'm taking a class about digital tools and so much of what we're discussing is about this new generation, the iGeneration is what they're being called. How plugged in they are, how much access they have to instant information and how technology is completely embedded in their world.

There's good and bad to technology, I recognize how easy it is to tune out the world and those around you with the distractions on a phone or tablet. I also think there are amazing benefits tech has to offer for our day to day living to make connections with other people and ideas. But most importantly, I think that technology isn't going anywhere unless there's some huge cataclysmic tragedy, which in my opinion is not preferable to the cons of living in a tech world.

And then I read articles about how this generation is going downhill, how we don't know how to play outside, how to have a conversation with a real person, how we're slaves to our devices.

And it all gets me thinking about a conversation Ryan and I had recently. We were talking about empathy, and how we both feel it powerfully, sometimes a bit too much. This empathy for the pain and suffering we see and hear about around the world, makes it difficult for us to always stay connected with the present, because it can be too much. The world itself can be a little too much right now.

When I think about all of the things I've had to worry about in my short 32 years on this planet, it's overwhelming. The little day to day things, like wearing sun block so I don't get skin cancer, to the big things, like nuclear war. I actually wrote some of the most prevalent ones down just to wrap my brain around the worries and fears that I've been warned about since I was a child. If I were to let myself truly be present all the time and think about everything I could and should be worrying about, this is what my brain would look like.



And this isn't everything, just the big baddies that came to my mind first.

So, what's my point?  That's harder to pinpoint. Basically I want to put this thought out... it's easy to judge our generation and the ones coming after for being distracted by technology, but how many of the things on this list did you have to worry about as a child? How many things will be added to this list that's even more terrifying for our children? It's easy to focus our energy on blaming our children for not living the same way we did. But we have to remember they're not living in the same world, and neither are we any more.

We do need to think about these scary things and face them, and hopefully come up with ways to improve our world so there are fewer things to worry about, but sometimes it's ok to look away for a moment so you don't get overwhelmed. 

I'm giving myself (and you if you need it) permission to turn off the scary world for awhile. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Meltdown in Moscow

Well it's been awhile, and if left to my own devices I probably would have just kept being lazy, but my lovely grandfather has asked me specially to get back to my blog. This is a man whose been like a father, and always looked out for me. So here goes grandpa, hope you don't regret the request when you see what's on my mind.

Tonight was one of those moments as a parent where you start to understand why some animals eat their young.

Poor Q has been sick most of the week with a high fever and virus. He's been whiny, clingy, not wanting to eat and waking up multiple times a night to generally just moan at his own existence. It's been pitiful and hard to watch, not to mention exhausting. We spent most of this weekend in survival mode, trying to keep his temperature down and meet his needs no matter how demanding and convoluted they may be.

Then this afternoon we made the capital error of parenting. Are you listening to this friends with babies, I'm about to spout a golden nugget of advice that you should listen to, maybe even write down...

Do not let them sleep past 4:00 in the afternoon. 

You can go right up to it, but be warned that if you let them overshoot that time you are in for an "interesting" evening.

We've done it before because we're rebels who like to push the line and see what we can get away with (aka stupid) and it's always ended badly. If you've ever had a nap hangover you know what it feels like to wake up too late in the afternoon. You're still tired, you know you need to get up to go to bed that night at a decent time. But you're left feeling cranky and annoyed with everyone and everything around you. Well add to that a fever, congestion and sores all over the inside of his mouth and you can imagine the meltdown we experienced this evening.

Nothing was the way he wanted it to be. His water cup wasn't right, he only wanted to eat pretzels, he wanted to play but "No, not play!" There were many tears, so many tears.  So many long stretches of talking through sobs that we could not figure out, which only enraged him even more. He cried for 15 minutes straight at one point leaning against the wall in the living room, nothing we tried worked. So many attempts to snuggle him, talk to him, ask him what he needed, leave him alone when nothing else was working. It was soooooooo frustrating.  I know toddlers are known for being unreasonable asshats sometimes, but this really took the cake. A meltdown to steal the trophy from all other meltdowns.

At one point I must have just turned to Ryan with a look of complete despair on my face because he took over and I went into the other room to let my blood pressure come down.

And he eventually got a bit of food down, took his medicine and went to bed. While mommy took a bath with double stuff Oreos.

All I could think while I sank into hot water with a mouthful of cookie was how on earth do people do this by themselves?

I've had many moments over the last 2 1/2 years of parenthood to think on this. It's especially close to my thoughts since I was raised by a single mom. How did she deal with moments when I was just too much to handle? How do you cope when nothing you do is working, and there's no one else to step in? I think any parent who's raising a child alone deserves a commendation from the president if their child makes it to 18 alive. It's a remarkable achievement of patience and self control.

So, tonight did me in, pregnancy hormones may have played a bit into my very emotional reaction, but bless my husband for being there to face the toddler firing squad. And bless my mom for dealing with me, loving me when I'm sure there were times she wanted to just walk out the door and never come back. And to any parent out there who is going it alone, my admiration for what you're doing is immeasurable.

And can I get an amen for double stuff Oreos?






Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hibernation

It's been almost 5 months since my last post... wow this might be one of the biggest breaks I've taken.
And my only explanation is sheer exhaustion and darkness.

This is the first year I've had a true winter in almost 10 years. And although this was a mild winter by Moscow standards, it still carried the darkness we'd been warned about. We would leave in the dark and return home in the dark. And with long work days mixed with evening practices (both Ryan and I coaching basketball) most evenings were spent trying to squeeze every last bit of time we could with Q before collapsing in front of the T.V. I think it's only really hitting me now just how crazy busy the winter was, how exhausting. Now that the sun is shining and the cold is fading, I'm realizing that I have been in my own little version of hibernation.

It's been a good past few weeks though, the sun is out, I'm getting to help coach softball outside, We found an online grocery delivery site, which will free up so many hours of weekend time, Q is positively thriving, doing gymnastics class each week and becoming more independent and talkative by the day.  And my mom finally got an iPhone!  Which might just be my favorite item on the list, because after 5 years of having to arrange times to talk and jump through hoops to share our lives digitally, the day has arrived that we can Facetime wherever we are, send each other texts and she can connect to the cloud of pictures and videos we're always posting of Q. Gimme a hallelujah!

I feel good. Still a bit foggy from my hibernation, new posts may still be slower, forgive me, but I'm here!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Moscow Oddities

I take photos of odd things I see when I'm out in my world. There's usually a story that accompanies each, but sometimes it's just the fact that the world we live in, wherever that happens to be, is a really weird place.

I don't always understand the oddities where I live, but they're cool to think about. And it's pretty fun to share.


A brand of baby lotion here, not sure if the baby becomes bad after you use the lotion, or if you're just supposed to use it on bad babies.  




The Y in Russian sounds like oy, like the word toy.  So it's a toyalet


I have never before owned so many identity cards that I have to have with me all the time.  There seems to be one for every little thing you do.


There's an obsession with mayonnaise and sour cream, it's sold in huge buckets.  


A few weeks ago we walked by a couple leaving our apartment building holding a bristly creature I initially thought might be a very strange cat. Then the guy placed it on the ground and I discovered it was a...



Yep, it was a raccoon.  



For some reason this advertisement is on the door of every public restroom I've been in so far.  And I'm really perplexed by the picture.  Why is there a dial? Why is everyone looking at him so strangely? I took the picture to show to a Russian friend and have them translate, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Ahhh the oddities of this country.  Still not quite as strange as Cairo, but it's got some doozies already.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Walking Man

It's a whole different world at our house these days.

Frankenstein has moved in.

video

Q was 15 months old when he took his first steps, and started really walking just before he turned 16 months.  That's a looooooooooooooooong time. In toddler years it was starting to feel like an eternity. And I know that he was still well within the range of normal walking, yadda yadda every child is different... I was getting really tired of seeing people post about their 7 month olds walking on Facebook, and having people remark on how tall he is for a 10 month old. It was difficult to see him so frustrated too, because he wanted to walk desperately, but he's just a cautious boy, he doesn't do things till he's sure about them (no DNA test needed for paternity here!). But now that he's walking it's like a bubble popped and he's back to his usual joyful self.

A little less joyful when he loses his balance and face plants on the hard wood floors, but still it's an improvement.

We feel like life is starting to have a rhythm again. We're all settling into routines and though our schedule at the new school is much more frenetic than we're used to, I think there's an air of contentment in our home. And it's not that there wasn't contentment in Cairo, but it does feel like life is a little bit easier here, a lot more balanced, even if we get fewer hours to enjoy the day. We have great workout facilities at school and are both getting exercise. The opportunities for culture are wonderful, we already have tickets for La Traviata at the Bolshoi next month. And nature abounds with beautiful leaves turning golden, and parks everywhere around us.

At home things are really good as well. There aren't a lot of restaurants around us, and no food delivery, so we cook more out of necessity.






He's starting to feed himself and is very proud of the accomplishment.


video


Q and his nanny Valia go to a music and Montessori class each week, and she also takes him on outings in the forest behind our apartment to gather acorns and feed the ducks.

He's getting really good at animal sounds, and seems to understand Russian as well as English.


video


Right now they're offering a baby swim class at the school, so on Saturday mornings we get in the pool and learn to blow bubbles and get our faces wet without freaking out.


video


And most of all, we read.

Oh my word, this child is obsessed with books. (Not complaining at all, and again no need for DNA tests from both sides)

We spend hours reading.  He goes and picks out a "gook" as he calls them, crawls into our lap and then we read while he turns the pages. And when it's done, he chooses another and we do the same thing again, for hours.  

What's really interesting is that so many of his books are not in English.  So I make up stories about what we're seeing.


This one's in Russian, I call it The boy and his onion rings who wants to tell his scuba instructor everything is fine.  It's a working title.




This one is in Japanese and luckily it seems to just be about playing Peekaboo, so it's a little easier.




All in all, life is pretty damn fantastic.  We're working hard, exploring our new city, making friends and watching our beautiful boy develop into a remarkable person.

Life is good...

And yes, I know... winter is coming... (insert Game of Thrones music)  We will survive!  Though we'll see how many small appendages fall off.  I'm guessing the pinky toes will go first.











Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Altai

Things have been so busy ever since we arrived in Moscow. I feel as though I barely have the time to process each day before the next begins. Which makes it even harder to coalesce everything into some semblance of writing that others would want to read.

But I left for another trip last weekend to Turkey and am getting precariously close to missing the chance to tell about my expedition to Siberia.  So here goes... it'll be more condensed than I'd like because I can't share most of my photos since they have kids in them.

We left Moscow around 11pm and flew to a little town called Barnaul.  By the time we made it on the bus everyone crashed and slept most of the way to Altai. It was a six hour bus ride, so thankfully I was able to catch up on a little bit of missed sleep.

When we arrived, our campground was nestled in the middle of a cute little village on the banks of the Katun river.  We all had little cabins with a gorgeous view.






There was a lot of time spent around the camp, swimming in the river (or dipping in toes and screaming because the water was so cold).  And then we started the activities.  First a ropes course where I got the best shot of all time as one of my kids slipped and ended up doing the splits in mid air.  Then a ridiculously long hike through the rain and mud ending at a beautiful lake.





I'm still not sure how she got out of that.









It was a beautiful, cold, energizing, relaxing, exhausting and emotional trip. The first time I'd been away from Q for such a long stretch of time.  And quite an experience to jump into very different surroundings so soon after arriving in a very different country.

It was awesome, and I really hope I get to go back next year.











Friday, September 5, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane... to Siberia

No, really... I'm actually getting on a plane Sunday night and traveling to Siberia.

Did I mention I've only been in Russia for a month?

At first I thought it was a hazing ritual, until I heard about how much fun I'm going to be having. I am an adviser this year for a group of 8th grade students (who are so much fun and make my days awesome at school) and a part of being an adviser is going on a Discovery Week trip to Altai.

For those of you that are more geographically challenged, like me, take a look.  I've designed a map especially for you.


Moscow is in blue, Altai, the area we're traveling to is in red.  And just for shits and giggles, I've highlighted the three closest countries.  So, we're gonna be nestled in nice and tight with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia.  Yes, Mongolia is still a country, not just a beef dish at P.F. Changs.

I'm so excited.

We'll be camping along a beautiful river in cute little cabins.



And the agenda of activities includes white water rafting, ropes courses and hiking.  Yes, please!

The temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit at this time of year, so we've been told to bring jackets, hats, gloves and our bathing suits and shorts.  Which we could wear on the same day for different types of weather.

A little sad to be leaving my men behind for an entire week though. In fact, this is the longest I'll have ever been apart from Q, and I'm trying not to think about it too much.  Luckily he's got a wonderful  daddy to take care of him, so they'll party it up in my absence. Just make sure all the loose women and beer bottles are cleaned up by the time I get home fellas!