Tuesday, December 31, 2013

out with the old

Faith got her first haircut today!  New year, new hair, right?

She definitely did need one.  For one thing, her hair was all different lengths-- it was above chin length in front and down to her shoulder blades in back, but not in a cute, rounded, on-purpose sort of way... more in a "my hair has never been cut since I was born" way.  Which was, in fact, the case.  And combing it was turning into a twice-daily battle involving screaming, writhing, and tears (mostly on Faith's part).

I was unreservedly leery, though, about how it would go. Probably most people are thinking, "What's the big deal?"  But this is the child who, at age 15 months, literally screamed through her entire pediatrician checkup-- including the parts where the doctor wasn't touching her, looking at her, or interacting with her in any way. (Her stamina was impressive.) This is the child who, after going to the same daycare 3 times a week for 4 months, is only just starting to whisper "yes" and "no" in response to her teachers' questions.  Faith isn't what you'd call "mellow" or "open to new experiences."

So we've been rehearsing. A few days ago I started telling her, "Faith! Soon we're going to get your hair trimmed!" (I read a tip online noting that talking about getting a haircut might scare toddlers.)  "You're going to sit in a big chair that spins!  And wear a special cape!  And then Jennifer [the kid salon owner] will take scissors and trim your hair, snip snip! And it won't hurt!  It'll just tickle!" (And yes, I do speak with an exclamation point after every sentence when I'm trying to make something sound enticing to her.)

This morning, she could recite it along with me.  "You're going to sit in a big...?" "Chay-oh!!!"  (It did come to light at this point that when I said she'd wear a special cape, she thought I said a special cake. This misunderstanding was swiftly remedied.  She was somewhat disappointed, though I'm still a bit mystified by her ready acceptance of the idea of wearing a special cake.)

And then it was time for the moment of truth!!

The classic "before" shot.

Aaaaand it was a total disaster.  Yeah, she cried loudly and kicked and flailed throughout, with big tears rolling down her cheeks, despite my (completely ineffective) attempts to pacify her with cell phone YouTube clips of Yo Gabba Gabba.  The place was really cute, too-- the chairs were all shapes like cars and airplanes and it was very kid-friendly.  I would've taken a picture, but I was kind of distracted. By, y'know, the screaming.

If I let myself, I would get super frustrated with Faith in situations like these. I do everything right! We prepare and practice and rehearse, and research the places beforehand, and use only positive and encouraging words and relentlessly enthusiastic tones, and and and!!  WHY DOES MY KID NOT COOPERATE AND RESPOND THE WAY THE ARTICLES SAY SHE WILL?!

But you know what?  She's Faith.  She is who she is. She's feisty and shy and funny and sweet and smart and she just takes her time in new situations. Lots of time, sometimes. But she comes around eventually. I can't change her, and you know what? I wouldn't want to.

(Her hair did turn out ridiculously cute, though.)

(Sorry for the blur. She never sits still, this one.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

woe is me

I had a resentful, feeling-sorry-for-myself sort of day yesterday.  I hate those days, because not only do I dislike the events of the day by the evening, but I end up disliking myself, too.

It started off with Josie waking up with a fever, which meant I stayed home with her and didn't get to go to mass.  Then I finally got around to hanging a bunch of pictures (4 months later than intended), which was satisfying, but not exactly fun. Before dinner I intended to do a 1-hour "speed clean" of the whole house... but it turned out the holiday season had been hard on my poor kitchen (especially one unfortunate episode involving the mixer spattering boiling liquid marshmallow goo EVERYWHERE).  So 2-1/2 hours later, I had cleaned the kitchen, and only the kitchen.  And that didn't even include inside the fridge or oven, guys!  And of course Faith was being particularly annoying during this cleaning marathon, in that special way only an almost-3-year old can do.  

And then as we were getting ready for bed (blessed, blessed bed), Jack asked why it had been so long since my last blog post. "What do you mean?" I asked.  "I did a long post the day after Christmas!" No. The internet apparently ate that entry.

This may or may not have led to petulant foot-stamping, tears, and whining that I was DONE with BLOGGING, I don't have TIME, no one READS it ANYWAY, and our house will NEVER BE DONE and even if it is someday it'll only be TIME TO MOVE AGAIN. (That last bit was especially relevant to the blog-eating Internet situation, no?)

The thing is, I'm not normally a "wallowing in my troubles" sort of person. I can't stand wallowers.  I even know all the right things to tell myself when I start to feel pitiful. "It'll be an adventure!" "It's a labor of love!" "Isn't it satisfying to get things done?!" But sometimes I get tired of cheering myself up.

I could close with an inspirational concluding paragraph about how I revived myself with prayer and learned a valuable lesson about counting my blessings. But that would be kind of trite, wouldn't it?  I do feel better this morning, of course. The "sorry for myself" feeling always goes away eventually. But I'm sure it'll return when I'm least expecting it, and I'll have to beat it back again.  It's good to remember I'm not alone in doing so, though, and that God will help me with the beating.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 11

You guys, how does a week go by so fast?!  I'm such a blogging slacker!  But anyway, today is my 5th wedding anniversary (happy anniversary to MEEE!) so my quick takes will be pertinent to that this week!

("Today" being Friday the 20th when I wrote this, not Saturday the 21st when I hit "publish."  Work with me here.)

1. Jack and I met on the 2nd day of medical school. We had a classmate who was a mutual acquaintance, so we all sat near each other in the lecture hall.  Such a glamorous beginning.

2. We have 2 weird pet names for each other:  "hero" and "slacker." Both were born of Jack's love of mocking me (he would insist that it's a sign of his enduring fondness).  Jack thought it was hilarious that I would call people who skipped lecture "slackers," so he started calling me one.  The "hero" comes from one evening when he made me a cup of coffee while we were studying, and I exclaimed, "Thank you, my hero!" He thought that was hilarious too.

3. I kind of convinced him to go into pediatrics. I mean, I didn't blackmail him or anything, but he was pretty undecided and I kept expounding upon the joys of peds, saying, "You should do it tooooo!! That would be so fuuuuun!!" Etc.

4. It snowed the week before our wedding. It was beautiful.

5. When we were in med school, we were so inseparable that our classmates referred to us as Jemily.

6. He convinced me to love Mexican food and beer.  I convinced him to love Doctor Who and tea.  I think we're pretty even.

7. Here's an "awww" one:  Jack was my first boyfriend.  I spent my teenage years hopelessly nerdy and painfully shy, especially around boys.  I was (*cough*AM*cough*) terrible at flirting.  But luckily we made it past those barriers to WEDDED BLISS, and we've been living happily ever after ever since.  (Everyone who's married can laugh now.)

Go see Jen at Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Friday, December 13, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 10

1. We got our Christmas tree on Wednesday!

I didn't realize when I bought it that it had a crooked top like that.  I've decided I'm not going to be annoyed by it, but will instead think of it as our tree having SASS.  Like it's going, "Uh-UH, no you di'n't!"

2. It was actually a HUMONGOUS hassle to get.  We went to the Home Center (the hardware/garden store on base) on Sunday, but pretty much all their trees were gone, except for a few sad little leftovers that were losing their needles.  They had them delivered BEFORE THANKSGIVING, so they had run out by early December.  Wtf?!?  So the guy suggested we go to Home Depot, as he'd heard they had just gotten a shipment.  (Yes, there's only one Home Depot on the island.)  So on Monday I dropped by with the girls, and it turned out that yes, they had gotten a shipment, but it needed to be fumigated, so it wouldn't be ready until Wednesday.

Now, Home Depot is a good 15 miles from our house, but it's less than half a mile from my work.  So it was decided that after work on Wednesday, I would pick up a tree with the girls and then Jack and I would unload it when we got home.

When I got to Home Depot, the tree lot was a CRAZYTOWN PLACE.  Here's how it was set up:
There was a fenced-in area in the parking lot, maybe 30 feet by 50 feet.  One side was open (the entrance).  Two other sides were lined with trees stacked up, leaning against each other in piles, and every few minutes someone let out a subdued shriek as they accidentally knock a tree over.  The last side had employees sawing and wrapping/tying the trees.  And the whole thing was CRAWLING with people.  So how it worked, was you pick a tree, grab it yourself, BRING it to the guys with the saws, go inside and pay for it, then come back out and get it loaded.  So I've got Josie on my hip, Faith wandering around super cranky and almost getting run over by people & trees, trying to drag a fricking full grown tree through a crowd.  And then after we paid, I pulled the car up to the gate and stepped out to get our tree (like 10 feet away, so I left the girls in their car seats), but they couldn't find the tree of the person in front of me, so I'm waiting and waiting and the babies are SCREAMING in the car and OMG IT WAS NIGHTMARISH YOU GUYS.

And it turned out that I had to bring it in the house myself too once we got home, because Jack was stuck at the hospital waiting for a baby to be born.  Feel sorry for me.  I know I do.

(And I think I can be excused for not noticing the crooked top.)

3. On the plus side, we have our tree now.  We'll put on ornaments on Gaudete Sunday!  And all the Christmas cards are signed, stuffed, stamped, and sealed!  (And addressed, but that doesn't start with S and I didn't want to ruin the alliteration.)

4. Just got 12 baby outfits for under $50 at thredUP.  Awesome.  (It turns out that, even though my kids have 5 older girl cousins with accompanying hand-me-downs, our bin of 6-12mo size was mostly long-sleeved.) But remember that Stitch Fix site that I linked to before?  Turns out they don't ship to Guam.  Sadness.

5. Go see A Ten-Month-Old's Letter to Santa.  Hilarious.

6.  This is a great video -- showing double standards that women face.  Not sure why it's an ad by Pantene, but it's a great video nonetheless.  This article gives a little background.

7.  Lately Faith has been bizarrely fearful of... ceiling fans.  She claims they're monsters.  (Or sometimes lions.)  Yesterday we talked about it a LOT, that they're just fans, they make our house cool, they're nice, you can turn them on and off.... we practiced turning them on and off, I lifted her up so she could touch them, etc.... but she's still scared.  Now instead of saying "Scared of the monster!" she says "Scared of the fan!"  I don't know what to do with that.

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

oh. em. gee.

That was my reaction when I emerged from putting Josie down for a nap and saw this.

Today is hereby dubbed the Great Dog Food Disaster of 2013, brought to you courtesy of Miss Faith Brigid (who spent the next forty minutes cleaning it up).

Friday, December 6, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 9

1. Happy St. Nicholas day!  Faith left her shoes by the door last night and St. Nicholas left her this book:

Such sweet pictures. Such a cute book (and Faith loves counting).

He left some chocolate coins too, but unfortunately Ollie ate most of them before Faith woke up. There were still a few left, and she didn't know the difference, but I was annoyed (both at Ollie, and at myself for not realizing I needed to put them out of his reach).

2. Our Christmas newsletters are super adorable this year. I ordered custom "infographic style" letters from the Little Miss Mrs Etsy shop. I was very impressed both with the newsletter and the service! I'm excited to send them out!

3. Josie is pleased with herself for learning how to say "da da da."
(Faithy's going in for a kiss at the end there, not attacking. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.)

4. I'm going to be covering a couple other pediatricians' offices for a few days early next month. They're solo practitioners who are traveling off-island for the holidays, and they want to have appointments available for their patients for at least a couple of those days.  I don't LOVE the thought of working extra days, but it'll be good to experience other practices to see how they work.  (And, y'know, get extra money.)  A little nerve-wracking, though.

5. The sun rises freakishly early here (like 6am year round) which means Faith has been rising freakishly early too. In an attempt to remedy this, we just got this clock:

It can be set to glow yellow when it's time to sleep, then change to green at whatever time you decide is appropriate for your child to get up. This morning was our first time trying it, and though Faith cried when she realized she wasn't allowed to get up at 6, she did accept the reasoning that "the clock isn't green yet!" and reluctantly agreed to wait quietly in her room until 7.  I have high hopes!

(You can also use it as a regular alarm clock for older kids. And you can set it to speak the time out loud for kids who are learning to tell time.)

6. Sshhhhh... [looks around surreptitiously] Josie has slept through the night for the past 3 nights. Don't say it out loud or you'll jinx it.

7. I don't really believe in jinxes. At least not intellectually. But... I kind of do.  Medical professionals are some of the most superstitious people you'll ever meet. Residents never want to be on call with the "black cloud" (the one who always had bad nights) because you know it'll be crazy busy. If you casually comment, "Wow, it's pretty quiet" in the ER, everyone will immediately glare at you, panic-stricken, and shush you ferociously. It's hard to be a TOTAL skeptic, you know!

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

paradigm shift


I think the key is to stop thinking about children as if they’re some kind of unnatural, foreign intruder in your married life, like a bug on a wedding cake. While it’s true that we are called to do all sorts of important, interesting things in our adult, married lives, it’s also true that having babies is a good thing, a positive thing, a beautiful thing.

Read more here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

seven quick takes friday - ed. 8

1. Wow. Iceland was never on my Top List of Places to Visit until I saw this video.  Now it is.  (Can't embed the video, sorry.)

2. Unless you've been living under an internet rock for the past couple of weeks, you know that this video is all the rage, with everyone talking about how motivational and innovative and inspirational it is:

Don't get me wrong - I actually love the ad.  The song is catchy (Faith watched it about fifty times in a row), the premise is clever, and I'm ALL in favor of getting girls more interested in S.T.E.M. (that's science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.  And I do think starting early is the way to go.

Credit: SMBC Comics
But I'm kind of ambivalent about the GoldieBlox product.  It's an engineering toy... but pinkified.  Now, I don't have anything against pink.  But why can't girls play with plain old Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets and Legos and Tinker Toys?  It seems like this is saying, "Engineering can be for girls too... if it's PINK and has PRINCESSES!"

But on the other hand, if this encourages parents to buy engineering toys for girls when they otherwise wouldn't, or encourages girls to play with engineering toys when they otherwise wouldn't... well, that's good.  And I certainly think that girls can like princesses AND building things.  Liking math and science doesn't make you un-feminine, and doesn't mean you can't like Pretty Things too (and I would argue that math and science are also beautiful in their own ways).  So, like I said... ambivalent.

3.  Excuse the language, but this is hilarious:

Cranberry sauce is SO EASY TO MAKE.  And SO MUCH BETTER THAN CANNED.  (I make the first of the three recipes on this page.)

4. Speaking of which, we did the Thanksgiving thing yesterday. It was just the four of us, which was fine.  We had signed up to host displaced sailors for the holiday, but apparently more people signed up to host than be hosted. I can understand that -- it might be kind of awkward to spend Thanksgiving with a stranger's family, and maybe you'd rather just get together with your friends and celebrate with them.

It was fun anyway. I roasted a turkey for the first time:

Made this centerpiece (Pinterest for the win!):

And this dinner:
Note the dog lurking under the table, waiting for us to turn our backs.

And it was yummy.

5. How awesome was the Day of the Doctor??! Pretty darn awesome, that's what. We got our Doctor Who car decals in time to celebrate:

(We bought them from the Epic Family Decals Etsy shop. Highly recomend)

6. So this video of a little girl walking on ice for the first time is ridiculously adorable:

7. There will be no walking on ice for us this year, here in the Land of Endless Summer. It's really disconcerting to have almost no seasonal changes.  I didn't realize until now how much I subconsciously rely on the changing of the seasons to internally mark the passing of time. I've started playing Christmas music now that Thanksgiving is over, but it just feels weird.

(I know the arguments for NOT playing Christmas music throughout Advent. But we tried it last year, and honestly, it just made us kind of depressed rather than reverent and preparatory... not the intended effect, I imagine.)

Go to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

things I have learned about guamanians so far

1. They are super Catholic. All Saints' Day, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception are island-wide holidays. Schools, banks, and government offices (except the military) are closed.

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2. They are super patriotic. Everyone is either a veteran, in the Reserves, or a family member of someone who is. 

3. They are in no hurry. Ever. To get anywhere or do anything. Examples:  The maximum speed limit is 35mph island-wide. It took 2 months to repair a traffic light at a major intersection after it was damaged by a storm. Et cetera.

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4. On a related note, efficiency isn't really a priority. Many companies just have one person answering phones, with no way to leave a message or streamline the process in any way.  There's one DMV on the entire island and you just show up and stand in one long line. There's no "take a number" system. But no one gets upset because...

5. They are super easy-going and friendly.  They'll go out of their way to help you out. I've had customs employees stay past closing time to help me, DMV employees make extra phone calls and give me their personal emails to solve a problem, and daycare providers refuse extra payment when they watch my kids for an extra day.  

6. They go with whatever works.  If it ain't broke (or even if it kind of is) why bother fixing it? Enter the concept of the Guam Bomb.

7. They revere the coconut. Coconut oil will cure all external ills, and coconut water will cure all internal ills. (And sometimes vice versa.)

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8. They love to eat.

9. They especially love Spam and fried rice.  Fried Spam with a side of fried rice is a common Guamanian breakfast entree at many restaurants.

Read the description under the Fried Rice section.  Read it!

10. The women are magically immune to the heat and humidity. A large percentage of them have hair that is well past shoulder-length (even the older ladies), but you almost never see them pull it up into a ponytail or bun. Meanwhile, my hair is above my shoulders and I feel like I want to die if I go outside with it touching my neck.

11. The majority of children under five have never in their lives worn shoes that require socks.

12. If you are Caucasian, Guamanians will assume you are military. Or if not military, then a Russian tourist.

13. Instead of "out-of-state," the phrase on Guam is "off-island." E.g. "I haven't seen them for awhile-- I hear they're off-island." "Oh, the new hire? Yeah, he's from off-island."  "We can't do that lab test here, we need to send it off-island."

14. "Hafa adai" (pronounced "hoffa day") is to Guam what "aloha" is to Hawaii.  Only MORE. It's EVERYWHERE. Hafa Adai Motel, Hafa Adai Daycare, "Hafa adai, how may I help you?"

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15. They are fascinated by blue eyes. I get comments on my (or my daughters') eye color on probably a weekly basis.

16. Boonie dogs and Japanese tourists are both just basically... background noise. They're everywhere, but generally Guamanians don't acknowledge or interact with them.
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17. They think nothing of riding unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. Construction workers, college students, kids, everyone.
If there are people riding in a truck bed, it's an automatic Guam Bomb.

18. 90% of the population has the last name Dueñas, Castro, or Leon Guerrero.

19. Typhoons (like everything else) ain't no thing to Guamanians. They all have generators, concrete roofs, and a 3-month supply of canned foods (mainly Spam).

20. If you go to church, there will be guitars.  There will probably also be a drum set.  And there will definitely be applause at the end.  That's just how it is.

That's it for now... I've only been here for four months, though, so I'm sure there's more to learn...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

happy belated halloween / all saints' day / all souls' day

So now that we're almost to Thanksgiving, time to recap Halloween, right?

We took Faith Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood, which is the first time she ever remembers doing it.  (I took her around to a grand total of 3 houses last year, but she was only 20 months old.)  She was a super-adorable Red Riding Hood.  Tons of people stopped us to tell us how cute she looked.

I knit the hood/cape (with cotton yarn-- this is the tropics!) based on this Ravelry pattern, but instead of buying a pewter fastener, I just knit I-cord ties.  It worked out really well!  The dress was a vintage find on Etsy, and I sewed the apron out of an old pillowcase (I am a terrible seamstress, but this was pretty easy.)

Oh, and not to leave Josie, MD out:

Her "costume" was just a set of doctor-themed pajamas which were a gift from my dear friend Laura when Faith was a baby.  No muss, no fuss.

Faith had a blast going from house-to-house, although her shyness kicked in and she was quiet at every door.  In between, she was her usual excited self, pointing at the next house and exclaiming, "Dis one!!!"  "Look!  Punkins!!"  "Oooooh, LIGHTS!!"  And when I asked her what she was supposed to say, she'd recite, "Twick oh tweat!"  But when she actually was confronted with a smiling grown-up holding out a massive bowl of candy, she'd go totally mute.  Ah well.  Perhaps next year.  She did enjoy the candy.

(Don't tell her, but we swiped some from her basket to give to other trick-or-treaters... there were so many kids that we were running out!)

On All Saints' Day, Jack and I had to work, sadly.  The girls' regular daycare was closed, along with all the public schools on the island (Guam is super-Catholic, you guys) but the child care center on base was open, so we just used that one for the day.

For All Souls' Day, I stole this idea (discovered on Pinterest):

Here was our version:

The idea is to write on  glass candleholder the names of all friends and family members who have died, to help us remember and pray for them.

We also made Soul Cakes!  We got the recipe from this website, which also talks about the origin of soul cakes and trick-or-treating.  (I cut the recipe way down, though, as it would make a huge number of cakes as written.  Good if you were going to give them out, I suppose, but I wasn't expecting any children to come "souling.")