15 May 2019

Letters to Everything

Dear Green Apples,
Thank you for keeping me alive. Against all odds and all normal advice for good things to eat while nausea reigns supreme, you are the only food that remains consistently edible. Thanks for that. Consistency is much appreciated. Although, I'm not sure if a diet primarily composed of green apples is what those who study nutrition would call "balanced," but this is not the time to quibble over such small details.

This was 12 weeks.

Dear Summer Break,
I am very excited for your imminent approach. This is a first for our family--Angel is off of work for a whole six weeks! And we are all looking forward to the time together and the work we can get done together during that time. Maybe not everyone in the world can quickly renounce their chosen career and become a teacher instead, because that might not work out for the world, economically, but you really can't beat the job when it comes to time off!

Dear Apartment Building,
Whose idea was it to build all of the apartments with kitchens that vent into the communal hallway? I mean, it's been relatively fine for years, but all the cooking smells of all of our neighbors waft into my own kitchen as early as 6:30 in the morning, and braving a walk down the hallway as any mealtime approaches is like unto taking my life into my hands--chicken curry, stir-fried seafood, roasted chilies--I don't care what it is, I just can't bear to smell it. However, I have always thus far made it INTO my apartment again before vomiting so that's still a win.

Dear Jeopardy,
Maybe other people in the world think other shows are far cooler, but I'm not sure there's much better than the sheer innocent fun of watching this show some evening and trying to answer the questions faster than the participants. Also, I love the look of awe Angel gives me when I get an especially obscure question right. And it was so fun the time that Angel said, in response to the "Final Jeopardy" clue, "Oh, it's the guy who wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray." and I was like "Oscar Wilde? No, I don't think so." And then none of the Jeopardy contestants got the answer right...and the answer turned out to be Oscar Wilde???!!! How did the man who has never willingly read a work of poetry or fiction get this answer right?

Dear Cyrus,
You are so ridiculously fun. There are so many countless moments I want to memorize, and I know I'm going to forget anyway. The way you "dance" as soon as you hear any music, even if the "music" is just me humming some sort of invented beat. The time I heard you suddenly start whimpering, a sort of "fake cry," while you were looking at a book, and I found out that you were looking at a page that showed a sad little boy on it. You were fake crying in solidarity. You now do that every time we read the book and it's the funniest thing. You have so many things to learn! I love how adventurous you are and that you always want to go somewhere and do something. I love that you try to put my shoes on my feet when you are ready to go somewhere. I imagine many fun travels with you in the future! You got the "Let's go!" gene from your mama.

Dear Mother's Day,
With all celebratory things, we tend to either go really big, or be really chill. This was one of the chill ones. We thought about going out to eat together, but braving the weekend crowds in this city? No, thank you. So we ate random leftovers at home. Angel brought me flowers from market and my sisters gave me a gift and a young man from our neighborhood brought me a second bouquet. How sweet! After church, Angel took an afternoon nap and then went to play basketball with the Sunday basketball crew. But the very best part of Mother's Day was this photo, the result of a photo op in the church nursery. It really needs to be printed out and framed. Even since ultrasound days, when I said, "Wow, that is one grumpy-looking baby!", this has been Cyrus's "resting face." This photo makes me laugh every time I see it.

Dear Date Night,
I think since late March we've been saying, "We really should have an actual date sometime soon." But then I was supposed to be resting with my feet up, and have usually felt too horrible to go anywhere even if it was allowed (I have no desire to vomit in public when I could vomit at home, thank you), and Cyrus really is a fun person to hang out with and our babysitters have a busy schedule of their own...Maybe this weekend will work out.  Or next week. I joked with Angel that last week's OB appointment where Cyrus cried when they did the ultrasound was kind of like a date...because at least we drove in the car together and went somewhere. Everyone says you "need" dates....I'm not sure that's true as I tend to be strict with what I consider needs...all I know is that I do "want" them and it's okay to want something and to be patient till the opportune moment arrives. I know lots of couples don't go on dates at all...but I also know us, and that we've always loved making the most of the chance to go out and do something fun together when we have the opportunity. I've also learned that date night pre-baby and date night post-baby is a totally different thing. Perhaps that's a blog post all of it's own.

Thanks for the tag, Callie!
19 April 2019

Choice Words

Cyrus is not what you'd consider an early talker.

In fact, until just recently, he hasn't said any words at all. Sometimes he appears to be attempting to carry on an intelligent conversation, but none of us can understand him, so in the end he gives up, due to our clear lack of comprehension of baby talk.

Angel and I both dutifully talk to him, accompanying words with actions and items, using both Spanish and English throughout every day. We read stories to him in both languages, sing songs in both languages. He gets plenty of exposure to words, he just doesn't use any.

I'm not worried at this point. Every kid has their own timeline. I mean, he was walking very well at 10 months so I think he just decided that walking was a bigger priority for him than talking.

But he has started using his first two words over the past week or so:




Out of all the words in two of the world's most influential languages...that's what he went with.

What amuses me is that neither of the words have any practical, communicative use. I've tried explaining to him many times that if he will learn words like "food" or "milk" or "water" he will have an easier time getting what he wants. I've tried telling him that if he learns "Hola!" and "Bye-bye!" and "Good morning!" and "Please?" he will win friends and influence people. If he learns Mama or Papa or Aunt Sarah or Grandma or Grandpa he'll woo the hearts of those closest to him.

But no, "Wow!" and "Boom!" is what he decided on.

I encouraged teaching him "Wow!" because it seemed like an easy and generally positive word to say, and saying something is better than nothing when I'm worried that the pediatrician is about to start hounding me on his lack of speaking.

"Boom!" came because it's his favorite page in his Cozy Classics board book: "War and Peace"

He will impatiently wait as we hurriedly read through all the pages that come before, and then as soon as we flip to this page:

He'll say, "Boom!"

It's adorable.

Still, rather useless on the whole.

Here's to hoping more words are coming. This morning we were all lying in bed, cuddling with Cyrus, and trying to get him to talk.

"Cyrus, say Boom!"
"Say Wow!"
"Say Mama."
"No, say Mama."

Know of any other kids who picked slightly non-traditional first words?
16 April 2019

What's New

Well, first of all, to explain my very uncharacteristically long absence from the blog, is the main reason why I've been gone:

Baby Due in November

We found out on March 12. I had been very hopeful, but Angel was more skeptical. I think it took him a few days to believe it was true. I think I somewhat naively hoped that this time around, my body would be a bit more of an "expert" on how to be pregnant and wouldn't cause any drama. But that has not so far turned out to be the case--during week 7, I was sure I was experiencing a miscarriage again, and I was devastated--only to be utterly shocked at my follow-up appt. to see a baby measuring 8+2 with a strong little heart beating.

I don't think words can describe the shock of that moment. Angel said to the doctor, 2 or 3 times (I think the repetition indicates how shocked he was), "We did NOT expect to hear any good news today." I felt like I was "given back" my baby. Indescribable.

The doctor is still quite cautious, letting us know clearly that there's no guarantees of anything at this point and told me to take leave from work and stay resting as much as possible (which is all well and good, but Cyrus can't read doctor's notes...). We are praying and hoping and counting each day with this new little one. I'm supposed to be avoiding basically everything for the next month, hoping this body can get itself into gear.

Sonlight Ambassador

I was thrilled when, early this year, I was contacted by Sonlight about becoming a Sonlight Ambassador--receiving curriculum in exchange for contributing articles to their website. Homeschool has characterized the entirety of my life and it's a topic I love to write about! My first article has been published on their site: When You Are Disappointed: Homeschool Visions vs. Reality

Spring Break

Angel had his first-ever Spring Break at his new job and we spent it in the most teacherly-Spring Break fashion. We had one doctor's appointment for me, one for Cyrus, and a routine car maintenance appointment (only thing missing are dentist appointments, but no way am I tackling that with first-trimester nausea. Summer break).

We also took Cyrus out to the biggest playground on the island, where we'd never taken him before. I think he was a little bit overwhelmed, he just wandered around looking at all the play equipment, most of which is too big for him to climb on anyways. He very purposefully tried to chase the little birds that were hopping around, but they always hopped out of his reach just in time.

We went to visit the new Ikea that opened up on the mainland--the first time I've left the island since October! I need to get out more. We had nothing too exciting to buy, mainly bedsheets. Bedsheets here are either abhorrently expensive, seemingly made out of plastic, or lose their elastic within a week (I spent our first two years here using binder clips to attach the fitted bedsheet to our mattress after its weekly washing). Ikea is the best option for not-quite-so-expensive, somewhat-better-quality bedsheets, and now that it finally opened, we had our chance to replace sheets! Hurray!

We had lunch at Ikea--I got a croissant for Cyrus and I to split and in hindsight, I should have realized that he is definitely at an age where he needs his OWN croissant because he'll eat the whole thing. Mom might be eating for two but Cyrus has a lot of growing to do...

So that's what's new in our world! How's life going for you?
05 March 2019

First Birthday Party

For Cyrus's first birthday party, I decided that the theme would be simply "Cyrus's favorites."

During the 'pre-party' before guests arrived, the family came over and we watched videos of Cyrus from when he was a newborn, and then when guests started arriving, we put on a playlist of Cyrus's favorite songs as background music. It includes such melodies as "La Chona," "The Drill," "Caribbean Blue," "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis, and "Sergio el Bailador." Basically since he was born, it's been a well-accepted fact that if Cyrus is crying, all you have to do is turn on one of these songs and he calms down instantly and is able to see reason (to the extent that babies are reasonable). You can safely assume that both my car and my parents' car has a "Cyrus Playlist" available for when it's needed. So of course we needed his background music at the party!

Our main dish was BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, as that is definitely a favorite of his, and I joked that I'm glad oatmeal isn't his favorite food or the party menu would have been very bland. We actually fed him before the party began so that he wouldn't be hungry during the party and could instead wander around happily while everyone else ate. We also had chips and veggies and a dip that got a lot of compliments but I made it from a mix so I can hardly take credit for it! :P And lots of fruit, and brownies, because I love brownies.

I got a sparkler 1 for his cake instead of a candle because when I saw sparklers, I thought that was really cool,'s not like he can blow out a candle on his own, anyways!

He was very mystified/intrigued by the cake and the singing, and took his birthday boy responsibilities seriously, if his facial expressions are any indication.

He was very happy when we put him in the high chair with his cake, but didn't actually eat any of it, just mostly looked at it and poked it a little bit. Then Sarah and some of her friends put on black lipstick and that was way more interesting than a piece of cake. was time for the piñata! Angel had insisted that Cyrus's birthday party required a piñata so I made one the old fashioned way, with a balloon and newspaper and flour paste, and decorated it with green crepe paper.

Cyrus enjoyed his turn at hitting the piñata  and loved watching everyone else take a turn, but when all the kids and teenagers had had their chance, I went up to take a turn and that was not okay! As soon as Cyrus saw me hitting it, he burst into tears--this is not appropriate behavior for his mother!

We had more than 20 people for his party--all people who have played a big role in Cyrus's first year of life and who love him very much--a good handful of them were teens and preteens, haha! Cyrus is not age-discriminatory when it comes to making friends.

I think I will plan to do a birthday party with friends once every 2 or 3 years, and other birthdays just do some outing as a family. In my own family, we never had birthday parties with friends when I was little, just with family. All my great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather together. But parties of that sort aren't possible when you live so far away from most everyone who's related to you by blood, and having a party with the "family" of all ages that has been a part of Cyrus's life from the beginning was very special. He got some very sweet and thoughtful presents, including a bulletin board all about Cyrus, with printed out photos and growth stats from his first year, nicely designed and handmade by two of his young friends (well, I guess, to him they are "older friends").

Happy birthday, little man! 

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family?
26 February 2019

First Birthday Book

When it comes to gifts, I tend to err on the side of very practical (i.e. food, cleaning supplies, educational materials, etc.) or entirely sentimental. This is one of the sentimental ones.

I had the idea, for Cyrus's first birthday, to make him a book about his first year of life. If you've ever spent much time with kids, you may have noticed that they often have a slight streak of narcissism. When my youngest sister was a toddler, she didn't like seeing any family photos that she wasn't in, and would insist that she was merely sleeping or in a different room when the photo was taken, never believing that she didn't yet exist in photos taken of the family years before she was born.

Now, the narcissistic streak isn't necessarily something we ought to encourage all that much, but still, I thought it would be very fun to be able to read to him, as he gets older, a book about the beginning of his own life.

I drafted out the words for his pages, not an actual story, but more along the lines of highlighting different moments from our first year with Cyrus, and then got my sister on board for painting illustrations. We toyed with the idea of making the book digitally--scanning the illustrations in and combining hand-drawn art and typed words and making an actual bound book...

...but that seemed like it would take too much time. Since this was such a short little story, and we only needed one copy, we took the easy way out and I hand-lettered the words of the story onto the pages that MaryGrace illustrated. Then we laminated the pages and bound them with a couple metal rings.

This was an easy project that will be a fun keepsake that we can read together as he grows older! Now that MaryGrace is nearing the end of her high school career, she has finished all of our traditional curriculum and is doing project-based skill-building until she starts college. So, this project can count as a school project as well as a birthday present--double bonus points for her! If you'd like to see more of her watercolor art experiments, you can follow her on instagram @mgsillustrates. She's planning to go to college and study art in some form, possible a degree in fine arts or art education, as she's very interested in using art in a classroom setting. In the meantime, I come up with a variety of ideas for her to expand her drawing portfolio and abilities--like birthday books for my baby! One of my favorite parts is that we purposely decided to include "real" details in the paintings--his toys are the real toys that he has, the rug pattern is our actual rug, Cyrus's clothes are inspired by his actual clothes, Dad is shown wearing a blue plaid shirt just the way he always does...

What birthday traditions does your family have? Do you do parties, practical gifts or sentimental gifts? My family's birthday traditions are asking the birthday person what they've learned this year, and my parents telling the story of the day we were born.