Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Observations on America: Excess

Christmas season is a time for excess - but that's not what has me thinking about how much "stuff" is available in America.  After all, Christmas / New Year's / pick your major local holiday is generally a time for excess no mater what country one is in.  

This month, two things made me realize just how wealthy my own country is.  First, NPR aired ads from the PajamaGram company - matching p.j.s for the whole family, and pets, too!  Yes, Americans can apparently afford "lounge wear" for their dogs and cats at $20 (monogramming extra).  Now, I suppose I shouldn't mock this so much, considering I just purchased a monogramed rain coat for my sister's moisture-averse dog for Christmas.  But, all the same, the ads on such a mainstream radio station - emphasizing the pet aspect - caught my attention.  

Next, we're considering adding a patio in our back yard.  My idea is simply that: a patio with pervious flooring so we can enjoy the great weather this spring/summer/fall.  I've been searching and searching online for some good ideas so I can speak knowledgeably with whoever comes to lay the stone, to no avail.  All the sites I can find talk about "outdoor rooms" - full kitchens, water features, dining grottos, cantilevered benches, etc etc and so on.  Whatever has happened to the normal American back yard patio?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Song

From Wm, in anticipation for tomorrow:

Crimis day is hear
Now we com to sher
Ol or veree gifs
That meen somthing
Thay meen love
Saym with brithays
Alelooya olellooya
Now we open with love

Christmas day is here
Now we come to share
All our very gifts
That meen something
They mean love
Same with our birthdays
Alleluia alleluia
Now we open with love

Taking responsibility seriously

Yesterday, I was teeing up with the boys the fact that (a) I had a particular outfit I wanted them to wear for Xmas eve and (b) a photo to the boys in said outfit was non-negotiable. Wm generally does spectacularly if we set up rules and expectations accordingly - no surprises allowed for that kid.

Patch was a bit upset that his sweater was more black than Wm's and threatened not to wear it. But, then the big bro came to the rescue: patch, it doesn't matter, it's just a sweater. You should wear it because it will make Mama really happy.

Then to me: don't worry, Mama. I'm the big brother. I can make sure Ian stays still for your picture. I'll make sure and it will be ok. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

No more babies in this house

Ian has been wrestling his brothers since he could crawl over them at five months. Running after them and trying to steal their toys since 10 months. Gave up baby food to eat real food like them right about one year, and didn't look back when his bottle disappeared one day in favor of sippy and staw cups.

Now he has  the beginnings of pretty consistent words: mama and dada interchangeably for me or Greg; "uya" (kuya) and "bubba" for his brothers; "bawa" for Bagwelle; "EE-YA!" For Lea; "la-na" for "no more?" (corruption of Tagalog walang-na); "MMM!" combined with knocking on the fridge for either milk or yogurt.  Lea says he has some other Tagalog words, but not understanding Tagalog myself, it's hard for me to know :)

My last baby seems to be in a hurry to not be a baby and to catch up with his kuyas.  In fact, I really shouldn't be calling him baby-ko ("my baby") any more.

According to Christmas cards, 2013 is the year of the baby - about 3/4 of the cards we received either have a new baby pic or announcement of one (or two!) on the way.  Two years ago, while we were still debating a #3, this would have made me a bit sad (growing up, I'd always pictured having four children - well, honestly, four daughters - and I was having a hard time convincing Greg that more really is better when it comes to kids).  But, after Ian's surprise arrival, and finding myself not feeling nostalgic at all about his brazen rush to become a little boy, my thought looking at all the photos is: don't worry, friends, your life will be upside down for the next two years (or maybe longer, depending for how long you keep having kids), but it only gets more fun as they get bigger and can talk and think abstractly. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

America's parent code

Today was Patch's Christmas program.  His preschool is at a local church, so, yes, it really was a Christmas program and not a "holiday" event.  Greg represented the parental unit, and his glowing report was that: "patch did an excellent job not singing at the program, but he participated nicely in the clapping, jumping, and stomping."  

One parent shared photos from the event, which I eagerly looked through for pictures of smiling Patch.  Surely enough, as Greg described, he was tight lipped in the back row, hiding.  Oh well.  (sorry I can't post on the public blog - his school has very strict photo-sharing rules!)

In the photo, Patch is wearing his nice blue and orange stripe henley shirt with matching blue pants with an orange stripe down the side.  Actually one of my favorite outfits for him.  Except every other child is wearing black and red.  When I came home, I searched the flier and emails and found no mention of a dress code for the program.  

I have come to the conclusion that this is part of the American parent code that I haven't learned, having not really been a parent in America yet.  We might look like normal, dual working American parents on the outside, but underneath the normal patina we have very little idea what we're supposed to do in this country as a parent, and no one explains the expectations because no one realizes we're just masquerading.  Apparently,  I should have known that "Christmas program" means "dress your child in red and/or black" and if you have a son, this means "dress your child in plaid shirt or cute sweater with corduroys."  

Now, it so happens that this year for Christmas eve, I did purchase similar red and black Hanna Anderson sweaters for the boys and a matching sweater dress for me.  (Nothing for Greg; he refuses to take part in such shenanigans).  Obviously, I should have broken out his Christmas eve outfit early!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Logic cannot explain

While we're enjoying the first snow of the year, someone else apparently enjoyed a $3000 stay at a resort in California on our behalf.  Capital One called us to alert of the charge (thankfully, due to snow, we hadn't been planning any Christmas shopping today!).

I identified myself, gave Greg's name as the primary card holder, along with the last 4 of his SSN and date of birth.  Confirmed we were in MD and no where near CA.  Should be easy, right?  Not.  She needed to actually speak with Greg to confirm.  The identifying info he gave (aside from his deeper voice?) - his name, last 4 of his SSN, and date of birth.  And then also confirmed we were in MD and not CA.

These interactions always amaze me.  I could have called, lowered my voice a bit, and just said I was Greg.  I could have handed the phone to my brother-in-law (had he been around) who could easily have just repeated the info I first said.  Makes no sense at all, but whatever.  At least Capital One believed us that we weren't at the resort!