Sunday, August 30, 2009

In English

From the moment she was born, I have made sure Amelia has been exposed to the Spanish language. My first words to her were in my "mother tongue". Her baby sitter from day one doesn't speak English. Even my English speaking husband talks to our daughter in Spanish.

So after 22 and half months of total Espanol immersion, Amelia answers in English.
"Amelia quieres mas?"
"Amelia tienes frio?"
"Amelia vamonos"
" Alright, here we go!"
"Mama, wait"

My friend Kate who is a Speech Pathologist says this is normal. Babies pick the easiest word to say. Case in point: she says "agua" because it's easier to pronounce than "water". I assume that each kid is different, since I find "mas" a lot easier to pronounce than "more".

I have to admit that my brain plays tricks on me and I find myself switching to English when she answers in that language, but I immediately correct it. I am working my hardest to make sure she learns my language. The question is, where is she hearing all this English?

Well, I figured it out.
It's ironically Dora and Diego's fault. The two latino cartoon heroes have brought the language into our house full time. Spanish is sprinkled through out the show, but Dora and Diego speak predominantly English. Since she watches them all the time, they have become her ESL teachers. I do have to thank Diego for teaching her "sube" since I found that "arriba" was harder to pronounce than up.

What gives me piece of mind is that Amelia seems to understand both languages. I guess she's just not really sure when to speak them. Hence, when we go to Gymboree and her teacher asks her
"Amelia, do you want to sing and dance?"
She answers with a resounding "Siiiiiii!"
Thank you God. Ay Mama!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A spring in my step

I've had a spring in my step since Monday and I know exactly why. After almost seven months, I have my household back. As I've mentioned before. my husband got laid off in January together with 69 other people. Without warning and after working the longest hours I have ever seen him work, his boss's boss delivered the news as that guy hid somewhere in the building. That's ok, I'll get to meet him one day. But I digress.

Unemployment always sucks. It obviously sucks the most for the unemployed, but it's no walk in the park for the family either. I can't help but feel some guilt because from the beginning of our relationship, my career has come first in our house. When we met, I was an up and coming reporter with a bright future ahead of me. Steve was working at an ad agency and didn't love it as much as I loved my job. So we decided early on that we would follow my career path since it was also going to be the most lucrative.

First we went to New York for my network job. Steve left his job and found himself looking for employment right after the 9-11 atacks. That took six months. We were there for three years and then back to Chicago. We hate being apart so he left his job again and came to the Windy City with me for my big English TV gig. He spent 11 months looking for a job.

Needless to say his resume has more than one workplace listed. After getting laid off, some employers found that interesting , a sign of versatility. Others were downright mean about it, even after he explained that he moved around because of me. Steve has never made me feel guilty about our decision, but I can't help it. Especially now that my industry might stop being as lucrative as we thought it could one day be for us. I'm just as nervous as any other American of loosing my job to someone younger, who will do more than I do for a lot less, even if the quality is poor.

For seven and half months my husband did the grocery shopping, cooked, organized the house and helped me take care of Amelia. Meanwhile, he knocked on every potential employer's door. Met with everyone who would give him 5 minutes. Applied on line, in person, over the phone. He also waited by the phone and the computer like waiting for a date to call. He second guessed himself after not getting called back, blamed himself for getting laid off and apologized to me for putting us in that position. He had nothing to apologize for.

Steve was one of the lucky ones. He actually interviewed for 4 jobs and almost got 2 of those opportunities. Friends helped him network and friends of friends met with him for informationals. He kept himself busy, lost 20 pounds by working out and eating better, not to mention the bond he was able to form with his daughter. I'm so proud of him. He was for the most part a pleasure to have around. But I was sooo ready for him to go to work.

When he finally got the job, I didn't believe it, but when Sunday night came around, I had the best sleep I've had in months. I went to work, got back to the Gym and went to the supermarket. Now, I hate grocery shopping. Have hated it since my Mom would make me go with her and then come home an put the groceries away. Well you shoud have seen how happy I was at Trader Joe's picking up chicken and cheese.

By midday I got an email from Steve with his new information. Things were falling into place. I took my daughter by myself to Gymboree and then we went to pick up her Daddy from his first day of work. All is well. My wish is that all gets well in the millions of households in America where someone has been laid off. You are in my prayers. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What was I thinking?

I know I can't take her shopping with me. She's 22 months old. She loves high heels and accessories but she can easily destroy them as well. If there are stairs close, she would rather climb those than try on my shoes. As I said, she's a toddler.

But I was dying to go to this sale. One of my favorite jewelry designers in Chicago, K-Amato, is having a two day sale in 2 different locations. I can't make it tomorrow because we have a play date, so today was the only day I could. It started at 4 and our baby sitter leaves at three, so I had to take Amelia with me.

I had a gut feeling this wasn't going to work as I parked the car on a side street. Still, I got my cute daughter out of the car and we walked hand in hand to the store. As soon as I approached the door, I got that sinking feeling. Beautiful accessories as far as the eye can see. Not plastic necklaces but fine accessories in silver and gold with shiny stones.

So putting her on the floor and letting her try things on was out of the question. Even worse, there were two steps to go down to the store. Amelia was ready to climb. My only option was to browse around with my 30 pound toddler in my arms.

K-Amato is a pretty hot line so the place was full. Full of gorgeous twenty and thirty something women without children. I'm sure they were thinking "what the hell is this lady doing. She should have left the kid at home". But they were sympathetic.

I was not. I was thinking "what the hell am I doing here?!" I should know better. I was one of these women 5 years ago. I know the rules of boutique sample sale shopping. Even though I was dressed to kill this afternoon, I stuck out like a soar thumb. At least in my head I did.

I did the best I could. I held Amelia with one arm and a tiny jewelry box for shopping with the other. I made my way to the crowded $5 table, but there was no navigating that with a child in tow. I gave Amelia 2 chocolate chip cookies. The girl was happy and chatty. I was not.

Amelia dropped one cookie and some woman said "she dropped your cookie".
"My cookie? That's not my cookie! I know stylish city women who wear local designer accessories don't eat cookies!"
Don't worry I kept it all inside. The nice lady realized I couldn't bend down to pick it up so she gave it to Amelia.

And that was it. Time to go. We gave it the old college try. I left empty handed and Amelia left with snacks. Good for her. I know my daughter is worth a lot more than a $38 pair of earring, now at $5 but I can't help but wonder, "what the hell happened to me?" When did I become the Mom who thought she could still be cool and drag her toddler to a sample sale. Give it up Belaval and stay at home. AY MAMA!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's not like it used to be

I have glorified the role of alcohol in motherhood. I know, I'm exaggerating. But wine did get me through the crying out phase with Amelia. I didn't get plastered. Just a glass of wine a night to relax after a long day of work and more work. I write about this because I just read an article in the New York Times today about author of funny Mommy books and fellow blogger Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, who announced to her readers last week that she has quit drinking. This after she wrote "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay" and "Naptime is The New Happy Hour". Wilder-Taylor says she realized that alcohol had become a crucial part of her motherhood survival. She had to have it every night. Knowing this is not the example she wanted to give her daughters, she quit.

While reading the article, I obviously took a look at my own habits and realized, I DON'T HAVE TO QUIT. I don't need the one glass of wine a night to get through motherhood. I don't break out in hives if there is no wine in the house. In fact, motherhood has had a sobering effect on me.

After nine months of no alcohol at all, I can't have more than 2 drinks before feeling nice and loose. A great feeling to have when you are out at night with your friends but not when you have to come home to a baby that gets up in the middle of the night. Our first hang over after Amelia was born made me realized, my drinking days were over. You can't nurse a headache and feed a queasy stomach while trying to take care of a child. Well maybe you can, but I feel horrible.

So when we go to a party and Amelia is with a baby sitter and I feel like I'm on a roll, by the second drink, my daughter's face pops in to my head, just like my mother's face would pop up when I was about to pass third base with a guy.

Plus, kids just know when you have left them for a night out of town. That is the day she wakes up the earliest and we have to drag our tired butts out of bed. So I don't encourage drinking and parenting at all but do not take my glass of wine away. It's all I've got. If you can, check out the article in today's NYT Sunday Styles Section: "A Heroin of Cocktail Moms Sobers Up".

Ay Mama!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nice way to crap on the mood

I'M BACK and with many reasons to celebrate. The most important one, my husband starts his new job this Monday, after 6 difficult months of unemployment. So for that reason, we opened that bottle of excellent champagne (a Christmas gift from friends) to celebrate. It was a Saturday evening. We were having dinner as a family when Amelia said she was done and left the table.

Steve and I sat there enjoying our champagne and great adult conversation. What a great feeling. Quiet child watching TV, Steve and I celebrating that the heavy weight of unemployment was lifter off our marriage. We were so happy.

Amelia comes back to the table with a gift for "Daddeeee". She hands Steve something that looked like a small brownie. Thankfully, Steve had her put it on his napkin. For a split second I wondered where she had gotten the "brownie" from. And then it hit me: "She pooped. That's poop."

Champagne buzz gone, celebration interrupted, back to parent mode. Thank God we were on our second glass of champagne or Steve would have thrown up on his daughter. Instead, he calmly got off his chair and went to throw out his daughter's gift.

What a way to crap on the mood! Ay Mama!

By the way, we finished the champagne after we bathed, changed her and put her down for the night. This time not to celebrate but to forget.