Monday, December 29, 2008

The Clapper

Some women cut other people's meat. Some will wipe off dirt from co workers faces. I have become a clapper thanks to my baby. Amelia loves to clap. Not a surprise since we clap a lot at our house. Everything ends up being a song and so clapping is inevitable. But what I did last Wednesday was baby clapping during an adult conversation and that is the perfect example that motherhood has indeed changed me.

I was chatting with my girlfriend Celeste about the latest class reunion that I missed. She was giving me a rundown of who was there and when she mentioned a particular person, I clapped with glee. Celeste said "Ana you just clapped." I knew excatly what she meant. I clapped like a 14 month old. I clapped when I could have just as well used an adjective to describe my feelings. I could have said "he was there. That's so cool." I clapped because that's what I do for hours on end for the last 300 and some days of my life.

I'm a clapper. I accept it and shamelessly admit it I'll probably keep doing it until Amelia starts expressing her delight with words. Ay Mama!

Grandparents wisdom

I've said more than once on this blog that my parents are not your typical grandparents, or at least, they don't think they are. Their house in not wall papered with their grand daughters pictures. They can't quote every statistic on their grandkids development and middle of the night feedings are not their thing. They are loving grandparents who adore their girls but they are done taking care of babies full time. They believe it's their kids job to raise their own.

So as you can imagine, there were some memorable quotes during this trip from them and their friends who are also grandparents who aren't looking to be parents again.

First up, my Dad. He was taking my husband and daughter to pick something up. I called to check on them and asked where my child was. This conversation was in Spanish, so things might be lost in the translation.

"Y mi hija?" = Where's my daughter?
"Con su papa."= With her dad.
"Por que no se quedo contigo en el carro?"= Why didn't she stay in the car with you?
"Ay no porque pega a gritar." = No way, then she'll start screaming her head off.

I thought the way he said it was so funny and honest. He loves Amelia but he's not about to put up with her whining. He already did that with me. His granddaughter's laugh is the only sound he wants to hear.

My mother's neighbour Doña Tere has 4 or 5 grandchildren. None of them babies anymore. But she accepts with no remorse that the best part of their visits is the moment they arrive and the moment they leave. I love that woman!

And last but not least, my Mom. Amelia gets a lot of gifts for Christmas. People love to give her toys. But we travel carry on (that experiece will be blogged about soon) and we can't bring the toys back with us. Besides we go to PR often and having toys there is great. So I said to my mom that I was going to leave the toys in her house.

Here's an excerpt from that conversation.

"Mami, voy a dejar los juguetes aqui para cuando venga en marzo"= Mom, I'll leave the toys here for when we come back in March.

"No hay problema. De camino al aereopuerto yo para en un lugar en Isla Verde para rentar un storage place." = No problem, I'll just rent a storage space for your stuff on the way to the airport.

In all fairness, I have a lot of crap at home. My husband and I have a week's stay worth of clothing, shoes, and toilettries and so does Amelia. I totally understand what she means.

Come to think of it, I think my parents should have a blog for "reluctant grandparents". Now a days when so many grandparents end up raising their grandchildren, I'm sure they would love a space to vent how they really feel. And since I know they are reading this:

Papi y Mami:

Amelia es tan afortunada de tener abuelos como ustedes, como yo de tenerlos como mis padres. "Amelia is just as luky to have you as grandparents as I am to have you as my parents."


We are back and I'm happy to report Amelia was great on both plane rides. As you know, I was especially scared about the plane ride down to Puerto Rico since Amelia would be riding on our laps. But, believe it or not, she was better going down than coming back up.

I think 3 things worked in our favor. We traveled in the morning, close to her nap time. A bit of Benadryl helped relaxed her. Last but not least, I promised everyone sitting around us a round of free drinks if she got out of hand.

The girl fell asleep 20 minutes after take off. Took a 45-50 minute nap and woke up nice and mellow. Enjoyed the plethora of DVDs we provided for her pleasure and, by the time she wanted to go, we were almost landing.

I wasn't going to go for the Benadryl on our way back but I think my daughter sensed we were coming back to the frigid city, so she was a handful. Amelia had her own seat so thanks to that and the Benadryl, she slept for an hour and 45 minutes. But she didn't wake up happy. No DVDs, no food, nothing made her happy. You know when she calmed down? When the plane shook like a blender trying to navigate the bad weather over Chicago. Ironically, I was the one freaking out. Maybe I should have taken the Benadryl. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Who's  at fault now. My husband went personally to the store. Dealt with the owner, the one that blamed me for everything.  We got charged for one thing and received the cheaper version.  I swear God wants me to learn something from this.  Maybe to have patience with stupid people at expensive baby stores.  Or maybe the artist who hand makes the necklaces is the one screwing up. Too hard to understand that there were two separate babies and the names should go on two separate disk.  The big charms that I paid for and not the little ones.  AHHHHHH!!!!

Last time, when they first screwed the order up, my husband almost drew on a piece of paper what we wanted  for the owner who insisted she did what I told her. So now what?  I have to give my best friend from forever sort of the gift I wanted to give her.  Can you believe I've been on this since the last week of November.

So Steve is on his way tomorrow to at least get the difference back.  Remember that these expensive boutiques never refund your money.  It's an exchange or credit when you pay too much for a baby t-shirt.

And to top it all off, I'm cheating on my girlfriend Michelle who owns a baby boutique but doesn't carry the necklaces.  Ay Mama!

Next time, I'll procrastinate

It started in late November. I ordered custom made necklaces for my two girlfriends who were each having their second baby. I thought I had explained myself very well to the woman who took my order but three weeks later the necklaces arrived all wrong. After taking the blame myself, since these day the customer is always wrong, the necklaces have been reordered. I'm leaving to PR in 3 days and I still haven't received the new necklaces. I don't want to call for an update because I'm afraid I'll get blamed for the delay. So my best friend from home is going to have to hear about her lovely gift, instead of actually seeing it.

Another thing I should've left for last minute. My Holiday cards. I also ordered them the day after Thanksgiving and was told they would be at my house on December 5th. Since I live in the city with the worst mail delivery system in the nation, I gave it a couple of days. I called the Tuesday after they were supposed to arrive and was told that indeed they had the cards sitting at the store. I said that they were supposed to mail them. I even double checked that they had the correct address when I first ordered them. The cards arrived 10 days late.

So what have I learned, leave it all for the last minute. Ay Mama!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What is too much TV?

Be careful what you wish for, I guess? We have been wanting Amelia to show interest ina TV show so that we can entertain her on our trip to PR for the holidays.  Now , the kid is hooked.  Blues Clues, Elmo, Dora, "la novela", Spanish TV documentaries on the human body ( her babysitter really likes the latter 2).  She also likes Handy Manny which drives me crazy since the stereotype is insane. A latino handy man. It's only saving grace?  He is adorable and Wilmer Valderrama does his voice and he is an awesome Latino businessman and a decent actor. 

But now I'm worried she watches too much TV. So do I.  I have watched TV from the day it caught my eye.  When I was single, it was my companion. It's the first thing I would turn on in the morning and the last thing I would turn off at night. I work in television for crying out loud. That thing feeds my family.

Yet, now I'm worried I'm a bad mother for starting Amelia on this family tradition too early. But what am I supposed to do with a 14 month old  when the temperature outside is below zero with the wind chill factor.  I play with her. Her babysitter plays with her all the time.  She moves away from the TV to play on her own often. 

She's 14 months, I can't give her a crayon yet. She navigates our 2 bedroom apartment like a police investigator. She opens drawers, tries to put her hands in the toilette.  Drags her dolls all over the place but if Blues Clues is on, she's frozen on her bean bag. 

I take her to be with other kids at least twice a week and in the weekends we go out often. But still, the other day she gave Steve the remote first thing in the morning when he didn't turn it on quickly enough.

Then again, I grew up on TV and my brain didn't turn to mush.  My Mom never sat down to play with me for hours and I don't resent her. Plus, except for the Spanish soap operas and documentaries, and the morning show I work for, Amelia watches Nogin and Sprout.  

TV and all, I got good grades, had extracurricular activities, a social life, graduated cum laude from college, have a successful career, found a guy and have a family. Maybe there is a future for her.

I guess I could have my father's approach. (Si, Papi por fin estas en el blog) He was offended when we didn't consume anything his company sold. From electronics to Coca Cola, anything Bacardi distributed, no matter how bad it was, we had to buy it.  Still now, after being retired for over a decade, the man only drinks Bacardi. So do I.   The least Amelia can do is appreciate television for what it is, Mami's passion and what puts food on her table. Que no sea malagradecida. Ay Mama!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who the hell raises a kid in this weather?

I've lived in Chicago for almost a decade.  I adore this city but I HATE it's winters. I'm not exaggerating. We had our first snow storm on December first and right now we are under another winter storm.  Last Friday, it was seven degrees when we woke up.  That's without the wind chill factor. That might be the reason people shiver when I tell them I live in Chicago.  I don't mean my tropical "compatriotas", I mean everyone who doesn't live in this neck of the woods where winter lasts 8 months and summer lasts 8 weeks. 

But just like with many other things, Amelia has made me push through this aversion to winter weather. If it wasn't for her, I would only leave our apartment to go to work.  I wear as many layers as I can plus a North Face jacket to survive an Arctic freeze, gloves to climb an iceberg and I'm still cold.  The fact that I work in the early morning hours when it's even colder just adds insult to injury. AND being in the news business means that when it snows, I'll be the idiot standing outside telling the viewers that temperatures are dangerously low and you should stay in. 

So I've had to adjust now that I have a very active and friendly 14 month old. No, there is no park to go to. But we go to Gymboree for a class, open gym and anything else they will invite us to. We pay 10 dollars at Bubbles Academy so she can run amuck indoors and literally bounce of it's padded walls. I go visit friends so that the girl can see other people her age. 

I hate every minute of the travel process, though.  I have to bundle her up and sit her in her car seat in a skiing jacket with a hood. We have a covered garage but if I sit her in the car without the coat, when I get to our destination, I could freeze her ass off just by opening the door to suit her up. She needs boots that she constantly wants to take off, plus mittens.

When I look at her in the back seat, the girl can barely move.  I give her a toy and just switching it from one hand to the other is a task. It's like strapping the Michelin man in a car seat. But true to form, she is not as miserable as I am. She either takes her pacifier and plays with or makes noises---her lips being the only muscles she can move.

According to my husband, children, himself included, have lived and thrived in this Siberian hell of the USA for centuries.  In other words, "island girl, get over it". I won't get over it, but I'll live through it for my beloved girl.  Next year, we are going to music class and even swimming classes.  The pool is indoors but you know I'll be blowing drying the crap out of my hair and hers before we get in the car. I think maybe we will both wear swimming caps. That won't embarrass her in the future. Ay Mama!

Is everyone pregnant?

Amelia and I went to Gymboree the other day for their open Gym session. Amelia went directly to this rolling platform, sat on it and pointed at the rope. I started pulling my precious cargo, when a boy decided to join her. I look up at his mom to see if it's OK that I take her son for a ride, and notice she was visibly pregnant. Then another boy got on the wagon and his mother was expecting as well.  A third child hopped on and I said, "sure, I'll pull you guys around. Everyone else is pregnant."  The latter boy's mother says, "that's funny I'm three months pregnant".  I looked around and almost every mother I could see had a belly.  So for 15 minutes, I did my duty and pulled those kids around the Gym. 

Better them than me.  I thought I wanted two in a row, but now even number two is in question. It's like this, when Amelia sleeps well I'm all for it. When she doesn't, I can't even imagine going through sleepless nights again. And these women having virtual twins...Wow! Hats off to them and their mental sanity.  They can always count on me to pull their oldest ones around the Gym. Ay Mama!