Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Next Step

So yes, I finally got my act together and concocted a resume for myself, and applied for a pile of jobs.    Well, maybe "pile" is a bit of an exaggeration.  But a fair amount. . .a few in Europe, a few in Latin America, and a few in Southeast Asia.  I've had some fairly positive feedback so far, although it's a slow moving process.

I have a line on a job here, raising the possibility that we could stay where we are for 2-3 more years.  I am intrigued by the possibility.  First, it's exactly what I want to do next professionally.  We love our apartment here, and would be quite comfortable staying a few more years.  We are happy with Miss M's school, and SB could enroll when the new school year starts in January.  It would give both girls a few more years to solidify their Spanish (maintaining it beyond that is obviously a different story).   It would mean extended employment for T, because he could stay in the job he recently got (whether he'll want to for a few years is also another story).  We have lots of friends here.  Plus, we love our housekeeper/nanny, and it would mean that we get to keep her for a bit longer.  As weirded out as I was initially about having household help, it's made my life immeasurably easier and calmer, and she is lovely, and our girls adore her.  For lots of reasons, it would be a good move to stay here.

I've also gotten some good feedback on a few of the European jobs, as well.  I'm excited about the possibility of those, because the jobs are also what I'd like to do next, and Europe is. . .well, Europe:  good food, lots of travel opportunities, and not terribly far from the U.S..  On the other hand, it's also expensive, we'd have to figure out how to maintain the girls' language ability, and who knows whether T would be able to find a job.  Oh, and we couldn't afford household help there, which means back to utter chaos.  We'd have to start over, socially.  Moves are also financially expensive.  There are always things you need to buy, which you never anticipate and which always cost far more than you've budgeted.  It's inevitable that problems arise with international moves, and due to stress, timing, lack of familiarity with the culture, and an overwhelming desire to settle in as soon as possible, you solve them by throwing money at them.

And I guess I'm still in the running for the Asian jobs, although I don't think I'm a serious candidate, in their view.  But who knows.  Anything is possible.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mean Girls

Last weekend, I took the girls to the park while T was off at the gym.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and they were delighted to be there.  We saw one of Miss M's friends from school, and I thought "oh great--now she has someone to run around with."  But that's not what happened.

The girl was with her older sister, and they were with two other friends, who looked to be just a bit older.  The four of them were skulking around the playground like teenagers (the oldest was probably all of 8 or 9), not actually playing on anything, and acting too cool for school.  I was chasing after SB, but noticed within seconds that Miss M, after a brief initial interaction with the girls, was no longer with them.  I turned to see her sitting dejectedly on a stone wall.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" I asked.  Her shoulders slumped forward, and she didn't meet my eyes.  "Anna doesn't want to play with me."  It turned out that the other girls had rejected her.  They didn't want her around.  She was devastated.  I tried to distract her, to no avail.  She wanted to play with her classmate and friend, and couldn't be dissuaded.  She approached the girls several more times, only to be rejected again and again, quite meanly in fact.

This classmate is all of 5 years old.  Her older sister is 7.

Miss M wanted me to make them apologize to her for hurting her feelings, and to make them play with her.  I explained as kindly as I could that I couldn't make them do anything, and that sometimes people are just unkind.  We talked a bit about how bad this makes you feel, and how this is the reason we are always careful to be kind to others. . .because it feels bad to be treated this way, and we don't want to make anyone feel this way.

Ultimately, I could see that no matter what I said, it was eating her up, so we left the park.  Mercifully, just after leaving, we ran into another friend who has two girls of her own, the same ages as my girls.  They were headed for a playdate with new friends.  We went back to the park with them, and Miss M and SB ran around with these two other girls and a bunch of new friends.  I could see Anna and her sister looking enviously at the group.  Soon and much to my relief, they left the park.  The day ended well for us, with Miss M having a blast.

T had been telling me for days that he thought Anna and her sister are mean girls.  He'd seen them do unkind things during drop off and pick up, and at a birthday party they'd all recently attended together.  I honestly didn't believe he was right.  They are 5 and 7.  How could they possibly already exhibit that kind of behavior? And yet, they did and they do.  I think that they do not have the nicest home life.  I get the sense that there is discord between the parents.  The mother talks about her husband in a really angry way, which makes me suspect there is a lot of strife in the household.  I attended an event with them a few months ago, and was surprised by the rancor between them.

But still, I just didn't think it started this young, and it makes me so sad for them, and for Miss M.  She's only 4 years old, and I am a bit at a loss that I already need to start preparing her for cruelty.  Whatever happened to the innocence of childhood?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I am supposed to be updating my resume, because I MUST get on with figuring out where we go from here.  But you know what?  It's boring and I don't feel like it.  I simply don't want to obsess on how to present what I've been doing in the best light to get the next job that I want.  I don't want to obsess over how far back my resume should go, and whether it looks weird that I've left out decades of stuff.    I just. . .don't.

And as for what I'm looking for, well, um. . .I'm interested in a lot of things, and highly skilled at a few, and there are a few more that I'm PRETTY sure I'd be good at. . .so we're looking at a bit of this in Latin America and a bit of that in Europe, with a smattering of Southeast Asia thrown in.  (And if any of you Laos folks are out there, please comment on the current state of healthcare there. . .as in the, my kid fell and needs stitches, broke an arm, hit their head, etc. emergency kind.)

Honestly, it's all a bit overwhelming.  I try to do a bit each day, but there are never enough hours in the day.

And oof, are we dealing with the throes of TWOness with SB.  She is incredibly charming, with her sparkly eyes and chubby cheeks and curly hair and dimpled grin.  When she knows she's done something naughty (which is basically about every three minutes, because she is an inquisitive, strong willed child who takes "don't do that" as a personal challenge to achieve), she immediately owns up to it, with an impish grin, hands behind her back, "I'm sorrrry, Mommy!"  And when I try to punish her, "But I want to apologize!"  And then she pours on the charm.  When I try to put her to bed, it's all "mommy, will you snuggle with me," and then, if I manage to get out of the room, "mommy, I have to tell you something important."  It is equal parts hilarious and maddening.  Oh, but the temper tantrums if she doesn't get her way.  These are the classic throw-yourself-on-the-ground and curse the earth tantrums, which we never had with our oldest.  I get so embarrassed when we are in public and it happens.  I look like such a jerk trying to put a flailing child back into the stroller.

The super hard part is that we have not found one.single.punishment that works.   She is not quite two years and five months at this point, so I'm quite at a loss for how to handle it.  She simply doesn't care, ignores us, and/or is a smiling little imp whenever we try to discipline.  It is SUPER frustrating.  And unfortunately, completely adorable much of the time.  I have to hold very strong to keep from laughing.  Which I swear isn't the problem, because I do manage to discipline her with a straight face.  But oh my, are we at a loss.  What do you do when nothing you're doing works?

But that wasn't the story I was going to tell you today.  I was going to tell you about how I found myself outside a Latin American women's prison today, and how it was every bit as depressing as you might imagine it to be.  Dingy, dusty prison walls.  Sad, frayed people waiting their turn to enter, each with a spartan handful goods to deliver to their loved ones.  The worn face of the woman selling coffee for 75 cents a cup outside the prison doors, yelling to the waiting crowd over and over again "there is black coffee, there is herbal tea, there is coffee with milk!"  The pot-bellied man who sold cell phone minutes to anyone who would buy them.  What really broke my heart, though, were the contents of the clear plastic bags that the visitors were bringing in to deliver to the women:  diapers, and wipes, and other baby goods.  I've been thinking about it all day.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ladyparts Irony

So, it took us a couple of years, a couple of miscarriages, and a couple of rounds of Clomid to conceive our first child, Miss M.  For my entire life, I did not have normal cycles.  Wonky, weird, ovulatory, annovulatory, super long, super short, 35, 45, 60 day cycles, ovulation on day 20, 22, or worse...that was me.  That was why we needed the Clomid--it helped me have normal cycles, and helped us quickly become pregnant.  I would have preferred to get pregnancy naturally, but you do what you have to do.  When it came time to conceiving our second child, we went straight to Clomid, and once again had success, for which I am so grateful.

I also didn't have periods for about a year after each child was born.  They didn't return until I stopped nursing, more or less.

And now, at almost 42, when we are done family building?

I have perfect, 28 day cycles.  I have textbook cervical mucus halfway through my cycle.  I ovulate exactly on time.  Every.Single.Month.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

At the Playground

There is a beautiful new playground near our house.  The local government spent like a million dollars renovating this park.  It has gorgeous open space, good lighting even after dark, a sandbox, toddler-friendly playground equipment, a rubber surface, and an armed guard.  Yes, you read that right...private, armed security.

Now, I don't live in the safest place on the planet.  Latin American countries have well known crime issues, and armed guards are pretty much the norm here.  There is literally an army of private security guards working throughout this city, in the lobbies of upscale apartment buildings, in shops, in restaurants, in schools, in offices...everywhere.  You can't walk a block without seeing private, armed security.  I don't even think much about it any more when I see a guy with a machine gun outside a shop.

But, the playground gave me pause.  I mean, we play on plenty of playgrounds that have no security.  Are we in danger when we do?  Before they upgraded this playground, there was no security.  Did it become more dangerous?  Do they know something I don't?  Or, is the security there to protect their investment, rather than the people?  And what happens if there is a security threat?  Will the officer pull his weapon?  Will he shoot?  And if he does, is he even likely to hit his target, or will it be a child?

In the end, I'm not sure how I should feel.  Should I feel MORE safe, because there is armed security on the playground in this very security conscious place?  Or should I feel LESS secure, because there is now a greater chance that my child will accidentally get shot?  Because the reality is that there are often many dozens of children playing on the playground.  If an armed intruder decides to attack, it's just not likely that the guard will take out just the attacker.

As an American, this seems all a bit absurd.  But then, it also seems a bit like where we are headed.

How would you feel about armed guards at your playground?  Would you still visit (imagine that it's the best playground around)?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Colonoscopy: In Review

I get myself so worked up over things that will probably never happen.  It is my nature to worry.  So, medical procedures with anesthesia definitely put me on edge.   Um, over the edge?  Quite possibly!

But, it turned out fine.  I always hear people say that the prep is the worst part, but I don't even think the prep is bad.  You drink a bunch of stuff that doesn't really taste that great, and then you have to poop.  No big deal.  If you've had a baby, you've been through way worse.  :)

Today, I got to hang out with the girls a bit before we headed for the hospital, which was super nice.  It's hard to be stressed about a test when you are cuddling over cartoons with a two year old in her fleece Hello Kitty pajamas.  She initially professed to dislike, and is now obsessed, with a partially animated, partially live action French bug show, so we watched a few episodes this morning.

When we got to the hospital, I realized I'd forgotten the documents they'd given me on Friday from my anesthesiology consult.  They couldn't do the procedure without it, so T. Flew back home to grab it while I got prepped.  It was pretty straightforward.  They went over some things, put an IV in, then took me into the room.  The anesthesiologist came in and asked if I was worried.  When I said yes, she laughed and said not to, and said she was going to send me to a really nice beach.  She came in a bit later and asked if I felt drunk, but I felt fine, normal.  Apparently, she gave me the medicine, but it didn't work,  that part freaked me out a little.  There was some sort of problem with the line, which she clearly sorted out, because before I could worry much, I was out.  I woke up an hour later in recovery.

I saw the doctor a bit later, and she said preliminarily, everything looked good.  No evidence of anything at all.  She took some biopsies just to be sure, but nothing that looked of concern.  The results will be back in 3-4 days.  Which is GREAT news.  Although, I still have that puzzling pain in my side, but I'll be talking to the doctor about the biopsy results, and maybe she'll have some thoughts.  She initially said infections can cause IBD.  Maybe that can't be seen?  I don't know.

I put the girls to bed right before writing this.  Miss M went right to sleep.  School started this week, and she's exhausted.  SB was out of bed a bunch of times, cute as a button and utterly defiant all at the same time.  "Mommy, I have to tell you something!"  And, upon seeing that I was eating a banana, "hey, you steal my banana."  She's obsessed with bananas, and eats loads of them.  She always demands one first thing in the morning.  And apparently, she thinks they are all hers.  :).   I only put her back in bed three times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And Next Up. . .

I'm back from my business trip.  As much as I was dreading it, it was actually pretty awesome.  The flight was fine (except for the off-duty PILOT sitting next to me crossing himself before the flight on the way there, and the other passenger crossing himself next to me on the way back, and the taxi driver crossing himself before driving me on a particularly curvy mountainous route we had to take. . .I know I'm in a Catholic country, but really!).  In between meetings, I hired an awesome taxi driver to take me around the city for a little touring and sight-seeing.  And, I got to sleep by myself, with no one elbowing me or stealing my pillow.  And, I got to sleep through the night.  :)

The colonoscopy is tomorrow.  This won't be a long post, because I'm midway through prepping.  When I've had them in the past in the US, my doctors used something I had to drink only a bit of.  Here, they use a different preparation, something called Nulytely.  It's not horrible, but I don't love it. It tastes like like salty cherry cough medicine, if you can imagine such a thing.  And I have to drink FOUR liters of it!  People always say the prep is the worst part, but I still loathe the anesthesia.  It still terrifies me.  And given all of the digestive disturbances I've had, especially since living here, the prep is no big deal!

So, can you guess where I went?