Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The BEST kind of festival

Tex -- who loves to eat above all -- must have thought that an International Food Festival is the best kind of event ever!!! Booth after booth of food! More food! and more food!

We are here just to EAT!!!

On Sunday the International Houses of Balboa Park had their annual food fest and we happily strolled among the tents.

Hungary seemed to pop up on every corner -- the hot dishes here, a few tents down - desserts, at their house - a whole patio full and as we walked by they were bringing out a portable table of more sweets. So, how could we not try something? The Langos bread topped with cheese, sour cream and melted garlic butter went fast. Everyone kept trying to grab another bite. Papa & Tex stayed behind to savor a sausage roll while Peanut & I went for a bathroom break.

Palestine and Lebanon offered delicious shawarma. We picked up some empanadas Argentina to see what Dora the Explorer eats at her abuela's luncheon.

While Tex hungarily glupped down anything offered, Peanut soon decided she just wanted a hamburger. Luckily, the America House was nearby. They didn't have hamburgers, but a hot dog made an acceptable substitute.

We saved some space for dessert from the House of Finland -- freshly made lettu (pancakes) with whipped cream and strawberries. Peanut wanted to go back for a second round of desserts so we picked up some pulla and other pasteries. The House of Finland organizes a number of annual events and the hostesses were all keen to tell us about the upcoming Juhannus festivities at Mission Beach. While the group can't sleep out on the beach, they promised a bonfire and plenty of action into the night.

The Lorax

Perhaps it was reading classic Dr. Suess The Lorax that started me thinking about our environmental impact. Then, I just happened across the China edition of National Geographic and thought how similar the images in the tales were - though one was as real as the other fanciful.

I still clearly see myself in a classroom at Gulf Breeze Elementary as the lights are switched off and the projector started up for a viewing of The Lorax. Its always been one of my favorite stories.

A few months ago I found out that Dr. Suess spent many years here in San Diego (in La Jolla). When you see the wondrous purple and red flower-filled trees, plants of all shapes and sizes, you have to wonder how much the scenery here influenced him. I don't find it too far-fetched.

Peanut sits quietly as we read The Lorax. She stops me to ask where the bears, birds and fish go. And Why Mama? Why do they go? I try to explain that we have to share the trees, fields, sky and waters with the animals and take care not to use too much ourselves.

Lorax in Suessville.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Can I help China?

I was reading the China issue of National Geographic last night and tossed and turned for hours following the article about the pollution of the Yellow River. (The image is from that issue of National Geographic).

In short, the Yellow River is being destroyed by over-use and pollution from the factories driving China's impressive growth. Because the Yellow River is a source of life for people, animals and agriculture along its winding path, all those who depend on it are also being killed.

While I certainly don't know what percentage of those factories produce the many goods that fill our house, I couldn't help but imagine that we are responsible for a share of the destruction.

Its a complex issue and these are just very simple thoughts on it. Who is ultimately responsible? Yes, the Chinese government and regulatory organizations. Yes, the companies and people that decide to pollute. Yes, the US companies that order products from the Chinese companies or their JVs. Yes, us, as consumers who buy the goods. Yes, us, as consumers who want to buy cheap, disposable and always more. So, yes, me.

So, I'm going to begin considering where my goods come from. I'm going to give it all a second thought - do we really need it? is it durable? does it look like the raw materials are sustainable? I'm going to make an effort to avoid retailers that depend heavily on China for cheap products and labor.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Talking Dirty

We were grocery shopping the other day when Peanut starts to tell me a story about Cat & Mouse who we know from a library book.

Cat & Mouse were going to school. Cat ate Mouse's snot! From her nose!!!

Yewwww. Yuck.

Then Cat made a poo-poo!!


Its amazing the phases children go through. Peanut, unfortunately, hasn't been around too many other children the past few months as we moved and I haven't able to place her in a preschool yet. So, I can't blame this one on the influence of some other potty-mouthed children. Papa & I don't talk like this. Peanut has just discovered the joys of grossing her parents out -- all on her own. I'm so proud.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Virtual Fridge Door: Humpback Whale

Whales, whales and more whales. Peanut drew a whole stack of them - this was the best. Its specifically a "mama humpback whale" she told us. Note the eyelashes around the huge eye that make it a mama :-)

Usually we have to cut them out, but this one she left intact. She's very picky about how her pictures are cut out -- right on the line, no extra white paper allowed!

Virtual Fridge Door: Spaceship

Peanut drew this picture of spaceship at the library after story time about astronauts, space travel and planets. You can see the astronaut faintly in the background - he was on the flip-side. Peanut just decided to do the additional drawing after she colored the astronaut.

Virtual Fridge Door - Dinosaur Bones

The "Virtual Fridge Door" is especially for the grandparents who can't come by and see what Peanut & Tex have most recently created.

We've been searching for dinosaur bones in our backyard for a week or so; ever since we attended a dinosaur themed story time at the library and brought home a collection of dino stories.

Peanut takes her bucket and shovel and heads off to scrounge through the undergrowth for fossils in the form of rocks, sticks and leaves. Tex often tags close behind not quite sure what he's supposed to be doing, but doing it anyway because Big Sis is.

Here I gave her some cardboard and glue so she could put her dinosaur back together - the arrangement is completely her own.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

I had a very nice Mother's Day -- a collection of cards were part of my wake-up, papa had brought home flowers & pastries from the Swedish Royal Bakery and we spent the day among the flowers at Carlsbad's Flower Fields.

Ever since I had Peanut & Tex I've gained a new perspective on my mom, my upbringing and who I am today.

My mom raised two children mostly as a single parent which I now can imagine was an exhausting role. She did it without a family network around her since we lived in Florida far away from her connections in Finland at a time when an international phone call was only for emergencies and very special occassions.

As we all as parents must do at some point or another - I find myself channeling my mom. But, I hope more for the positive values she modeled and the self confidence she instilled.

I want Peanut & Tex to be nature lovers who feel responsible for maintaining and contributing to the Earth's well being. I always knew that I wanted my children to grow up running bare foot outdoors searching for ladybugs, snails and other creatures. I hope they grow up admiring the beauty around us and wondering about the amazing events of nature.

I want my children to respect themselves and others in their actions, words and intentions.

I want to encourage my children to be creative thinkers able to express themselves in arts, crafts, music, words and any other channel they can imagine. I hope they will believe in what they create and feel passionate about its value.

I want them to fall in love with books, stories, poems, tales, newspapers, magazines -- and the Internet as a way to discover new places, ideas and answers to their questions.

I want them to value education.

Its a long list and I could go on, but in these areas I am thankful to have a mother who has shown me how to teach these things. And, most of all, I'm thankful to her for raising me surrounded by these beliefs.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Boy and his Cow

"Boooooo, Moooooooo" Tex suddenly called out one day and pointed to a black & white stuffed cow.

Since then, "Boo" has been his lovey. I don't know what inspired his attachment and why he fixated on this toy, but it is somehow appropriate.

I quickly tried to introduce Kitty-Cat as a back-up to Boo. Afterall, both these toys are black & white and fairly similar. Tex seems happy with the idea. Both help soothe him to sleep and when he's feeling a bit unsure. He loves to twirl his finger around in Boo's ear and use Kitty-Cat's tail to brush along his eyebrows. If these make him feel better, than I'm happy for him.

Peanut also honed in on her beloved Pooh Bear around the same age. Though now that she's three, Pooh & Blanket have been displaced by imaginary friends that easily go and appear where she is. I think this is a great development! We no longer have to worry about losing a precious friend or having to separate Peanut from her lovey for its much-needed bi-weekly wash. She'll just hold out her empty hand and say guess who's here, mama? It maybe Ice Cream Truck, it may be a Bee, there is a whole cast of characters to choose from.

As different as night & day

A very late night and a very early day that is.

Peanut takes after her papa and is a night owl. We've always had her bedtime around 7:30 - 8:00 pm so she gets enough sleep and we get a chance to spend some quiet time in the evening. Though were it up to Peanut, she'd be bouncing around until well past 10 pm. Now, I know why it was so tough for us to get her to bed peacefully when she was a baby - she just wasn't ready to go!

Lately, she's built up her arsenal of stalling techniques and usually isn't in bed until around 9 pm! First there's bath time. Then after racing around naked for a while, she selects a nightgown. Then she wants to "play for a little bit". Recently, she's started asking for an evening snack. This to be followed by stories - "only 5 books tonight mama" she imitates Olivia the pig. Then, its potty time which usually requires her to go through another book. With that over, its time to brush and floss her teeth. Well, finally into her room and in bed! Then its "I need fresh water". Followed by "tell me the belly-button story" and finally good night.

In the meantime, little Tex has shut-down when the clock struck 7:30 pm. If mama & papa are not watching the time in the evening and we are all still downstairs after 7 pm, Tex has been known to head for the staircase himself and start to go up cause he wants to go to bed. He can barely keep his eyes open after bath time and we only on the rarest occassion hear a peep (OK, in his case, banging on the wall) of protest. He's been that easy to put to bed since the very first night he was home from the hospital. I remember being so amazed that he didn't need anything to settle down.

But, come 6:00 am, Tex is raring to go. While going to bed was a dream, waking up has never been pleasant. Tex basically turns on - opens his eyes and mouth to start screaming right away. Even though I'm a morning person, this has been one of the most difficult transitions since he arrived. There is nothing gentle, forgiving or relenting about his wake-up yell. It demands you wretch yourself from bed immediately and see what he needs. Plus, we know Peanut is not a morning person so we want her to sleep as late as possible.

Tex isn't one for cuddling with us in bed. We try to bring him in in hopes gaining a few more minutes of rest, but he's interested in banging on the window, wiggling about and getting us downstairs to get him breakfast -- NOW!!!!!!!!