Thursday, February 27, 2014

Birthday Party Madness

I'm currently trying to plan SB's second birthday party.  We just put together a guest list, and we figured out that we need to invite a minimum of 53 people, so as not to offend any of our friends.  These are all people that we regularly socialize with, who have kids SB's age.  They all routinely invite us to their kids parties, their houses for dinner, out, to the park, etc., etc.  Argh.

For her first birthday, we threw a small party at a museum.  We played, we had lunch, my mom came,  there was cake, and it was fun and reasonably priced.  It was a small group of our closest friends, and it was perfect.  I am struggling to find something reasonable to do with 53 people.  Of course they won't all come; all of them travel quite a bit for work and/or fun, and people always have other obligations.  But still. . .huge group.

Our apartment is spacious, but not so spacious that I can host 23 children under the age of five. Nor do I really want to.  We could just do a family party, but my mother in law and her husband will be here for the birthday, and that just sounds boring. . .no other kids.  My office has some outdoor space that I could use, but that really means that we could only invite friends from work, because it's too complicated to get non-work friends through the layers of security that invariably exist in offices here.  I looked at other options, but with a group that large, we are talking a minimum of $500, and. . .no.  I just won't.  She's two years old.  TWO!!!

But that's what everyone here does.  They spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on these big, crazy birthday parties.  There are a million options, and they aren't really that expensive, if you only invite, say 10 kids.  But invite 23 kids and 30 adults (i.e., the parents of said children), and suddenly. . .wowza.

Oh, and because I am so behind, her birthday is next weekend, so I really need to get it planned.  Luckily, people here think it is totally normal to do invites immediately before the birthday.  Only my American friends will think my lack of planning is bad.   Now if only I could decide on what to do.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bits and Bobs

We have family visiting this week. . .T's niece and her husband.  We tried to pack in as many activities as we could over the weekend, while I was off from work.  We have more family coming, and a trip planned for this spring, so I didn't want to take time off while they were here, which led to an action-packed three days

On Saturday, we drove them out into the country on winding mountain roads that afforded sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains.  It was a really beautiful, but long, ride.  Driving here reminds me of driving in northern New England. . .and back roads make for slow going.  It's a nice ride, but a journey.  Our destination was a historic site, and it didn't disappoint.  We hiked up a mountain to the site, passing native fauna on the way (check out the tiny orchid, no bigger than my pinkie nail!).

An indigenous guide showed us around the spot and gave a great tour.  The views were beautiful, which was a good thing, because at over 10, 000 feet, we needed to stop frequently to breathe.

(I have no idea why that giant photo is there. . .I've tried deleting it in my draft, but it's still there!)  Then on the way back, we stopped at a local can't-be-missed restaurant for some great food and entertainment.   This country welcomes families like no other I've ever been in.  Loads of restaurants have highly developed entertainment areas for children.  This one was no exception:  rock climbing, sand pit, slide, soccer pitch, walking on stilts, face painting, carpentry, music jam sessions, roving bands of entertainers in costume. . .all inside the restaurant.  And I am not exaggerating one bit.  Miss M was a bit put out when she discovered she wasn't tall enough to rock climb.  As a side note, she is measuring only 39 inches, and I keep telling her she better eat her veggies if she wants to hit that 40 inch mark before our spring trip to Disney.  Thus far, despite her deep love of roller coasters, it is not proving to be a winning argument.  :)

Then on Sunday we took them to a local artisanal street market.  It's excellent eating, people watching, and shopping, and one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday morning. We walked the 2-ish miles there.  I forget that not everyone walks and hikes like we do.  By the end of the day, we'd walked more than five miles, and our poor guests were exhausted.  We took them out to play a local sport that night, though. . . which pretty much killed any chance of the waterfall and cloud forest hike we'd planned for Monday.  We ended up having to stay local, but it was still fun to show them around our neighborhood.

The girls are doing well.  A stomach bug has gone through all of us (again), and this one came with a fever and chills, which I thought was weird.  The girls just had terrible stomach aches and high fevers, but never actually got sick.  I wasn't quite so lucky.  But overall, I've been feeling better.  The pain in my side has finally gone away.  It's been gone for a few weeks.  It came back for a few days, but has now gone away again.  I can't figure out what caused it, or what made it go away, but I am grateful that it's gone.

And as for my list of things to do. . .well, I'm making a bit of progress, although not as much as I'd like.  The taxes are done and filed, but I haven't yet started on the books I want to make, for example.  I have to get my act together.  With so little free time each day, it's hard.  I just have to keep in mind that the journey of a thousand steps begins with just one.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SB at 23 Months

My dearest little SB,

How is it even possible that you are almost two years old?  It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with you.  How the time flies by!

And you are such a joy.  Your vocabulary has long been huge, but the explosion into full on sentences is just amazing.  For more than a month now, you have been capable of full conversations.  You tell me things in complete sentences, in perfect English. . .and sometimes with a bit of Spanish thrown in.  "I want to get down," you told me this morning, as you sat in your high chair.  "I want to jugar."  (Which means, "to play.").  You are charming, smiley, mischievous, and full of energy.  You are also so much FUN!  You love to laugh, and you love to make others laugh.  You love to say "that's so silly" and then giggle.

At night, you get to pick out a book (or two, or three) to read.  You never want me to stop, and I often indulge you in another.  Your sister likes me to tell her stories off the top of my head, but you love to pull books off the shelf and look at the pictures.

You are still sleeping in your crib.  You can get out, but you've stopped trying.  For a few days a month or so ago, you got out every time we put you in, but you seem to have decided that it's too much work.  Now, when you want to get out, you yell for us.  If we don't come immediately, you yell a bit more, and then cry.  It breaks my heart to hear you cry. . .you must have snuggles IMMEDIATELY upon waking up, or you get so sad.  And then, once up, you immediately want breakfast. "Come!" you'll say, as you grab my hand.

You eat all sorts of foods, including vegetables.  Your favorites, however, are fruits of all sort.  You are deeply in love with mandarin oranges right now, and I can barely keep enough of them on hand.  You also love pineapple and strawberries, but they give you a terrible diaper rash.  It looks just like a chemical burn.  I have to ration your pineapple intake so that it doesn't happen.  You also love grapes, and the little tiny bananas that they grow here, which are sweeter than regular bananas.  Oh, and blueberries are one of your most favorite fruits ever.

You and your sister have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to eating pizza and toast.  You prefer the crust; she prefers the middle.  The two of you trade off.  I think it must be because you are teething, and the crusts feel better to you.  Whatever the reason, it cracks me up to see her handing you her crusts, and you ignoring the cheesy parts of the pizza for them.

You have just about all of your teeth.  The last of your molars and the incisors seem to have popped through this month.  You've been drooling like crazy, and chewing on everything in sight.  We just realized that the crib is a bit worse for wear. . .clearly you've been gnawing on it at times that we didn't even know that you were awake and standing up!

You love the iPad.  In fact, you are deeply obsessed with it, and ask me to use it all the time.  We recently flew to the U.S., and used it then to keep you entertained, and ever since then, you adore it.  There are a ton of children's games on it, most of them in Spanish, and you just think they are a blast. It cracks me up to watch you, and sometimes I relent and let you use it.  It's a good thing your grandmother bought you your very own Leap.pad for your birthday.  You are going to be thrilled--although, less so when you discover how much we will limit your screen time!

You love to run around the park, and especially love to try to get in the many ponds and little streams that are there.  If there is something to get into and to get messy with, you are in it in a flash.  It might be because you also love to take baths.  You ask to take a bath constantly, and scream when we take you out.

We are also delighted that you have already shown an interest in using the potty.  You frequently ask to use it, and often really have to go.  Unfortunately, those two things aren't neatly happening at the same time, but we'll get there.  The other day, I let you use it, but thought you were messing around and I didn't make you sit on it for long.  You stood up and peed on the floor.  Oops!

You adore your sister.  Now that she has started school, you ask for her all day long.  You play wonderfully together, and then fight terribly.  You are unbelievably close, but neither of you gives the other an inch.  You give as good as you get.  You are equals--no "little sister" stuff for you!  I love that you are fierce and loyal and independent even at your young age.  The two of you stick up for each other, too.  It is awesome.

When someone takes something from you that you wanted, like a piece of food or a toy, you yell "Hey!" in the most indignant way.  I have no idea where you learned it from--probably your sister.  It's pretty funny, and I love it, even as I know I need to sometimes reign you in.

You are in 2T clothing now, although it is a bit big.  You are a skinny child, probably because you mostly want to eat fruit.  You aren't very picky about your clothing (yet), thankfully.  You proudly wear things you know we think are cute.  You sometimes will allow us to pull your mop of curls back from your eyes with a barrette, but often you tear it out.  Your hair is long enough now for two cute short ponytails on either side of your head, and you are just ADORABLE with them.

You love to talk on the telephone, and will sometimes demand to call your grandmother.  You insist on holding the phone, and run away from everyone with it.  However, you just sit and listen with it up to your ear, and rarely say anything.  You yell and scream when we try to take it away from you.

You also throw temper tantrums, which is a first in our house.  It can be over something big or something little, but you throw yourself on the ground and wail and thrash.  We are a bit bemused by this behavior, I admit, and we have no idea where it came from.  We simply ignore it, and hope that it will pass.  Secretly, I am a bit amused by your commitment sometimes, and the strength of your emotions.  But I'm not giving you an inch--I don't want you to think that is an appropriate way to behave, because it most certainly is not.

But overall, you have a sunny, delightful demeanor, and I really treasure every moment with you.  You and Miss M are so alike, and yet so different.  You are both smart and outspoken and active and engaged.  And yet your personalities are totally unique.  I love that about you girls, and feel like I am the luckiest mother in the world.  I am so lucky to be your mother, and enjoy our time together so much.  I can't wait to see what this next month brings, and see all of the ways you change and learn and grow.

Love always,