Why I Don’t Blog Much Anymore

19 May

Over the past year or so I’ve written at least a hundred or so blogs in my head.  In some cases entire paragraphs have been “written” and I’ve taken handfuls of blog worthy photos from so many different big and little adventures we’ve been on. I’ve got a dozen new stories to share from Kai’s Adventures in Mexico City, Tapanti, La Paz, and many more. But at the end of the day, none of these stories have made their way onto the blog.  Why? 

Well it’s actually really simple, time. I don’t have time to blog much. Sure, I could spend some of the time I take out of my day walking the dogs at the crack of dawn or the little bit of extra time I spend cooking a healthy meal for my family. But when I ask myself, the answer is always no.  Those moments of my day are just not worth the sacrifice.  Not to mention, the thought of taking time away from my son to blog does not even cross my mind.

I’ve also been very busy… to say the least. We just completed a highly complex and stressful 3,000 mile move, which I had been planning to “document” on this blog and hopefully will recount at some point.  Since we’ve moved, its been a process getting settled, fixing our house, buying cars, getting insurance, helping my father find a place, and the list goes on and on and on. Oh and I started back working just a week after the move.  Needless to say, any “free” time I do find I dedicate it to spending quality time with my family, especially Kai who is growing like a weed, get some down time, and if life permits I try my best to find 30-45 minutes in my day to go for a run.

I become more and more aware of the concept of time every day.  I’ve mentioned it before, but time is the one thing you can’t get back… it is the most precious commodity.  Nearly everyday I have these moments when I just wish that I could press “pause” and freeze time to savor all the little nuances and intricacies of being with Kai at each of his stages and phases of growth. Listening to him sing with true passion.  Watching him dance, and dancing along with him.  Experiencing his excitement over umbrellas and rain coats.  Playing in the dirt while planting a new gardenia for our patio together.  Painting turtles and trees for his Aunt Kristy and Padrino.  Seeing the wonder in his eyes the first time he sees tadpoles.  These are moments I can never get back.  And that is why I don’t blog much anymore.  Maybe someday I will have the time to blog again, but for now I am going to live in the moment and savor these days that I will never get back.

Trials and Tribulations of Selling in the 202

30 Jan

Cherry_Blossoms_HomeThe past six months of my life have been mostly consumed with the whole process of preparing to move. It really started February 2014 when we renovated our full bathroom, which was a necessary first step towards the process of selling our house. The house preparation and selling saga continued though most of January 2015, all the meanwhile we were living in our house. From new carpet installation which meant that all the 2nd floor furniture had to be moved down to the first floor and then back up again – fun! Later we moved onto the glory of granite counter top installation, a new sink, sealing & sealing again the new counter tops, and finally it came down to touch-up paint and cleaning until your fingers literally bleed. Then came the initial phase of packing to “thin out” the stuff in the house and make it look like no one actually lives there. In the midst of this, wee proceeded to get one of our beloved kitties through the USDA paperwork process and then sent down to Costa Rica with my father since we will only be allowed one cat per person when we finally move. Opp and then its on to staging, because of course the house has to look like it came out of Better Home and Garden Magazine with a perfectly chic interior, complete with perfectly *fake* red apples, *plastic* orchids framing out the kitchen, and always poofed couch pillows. Blahh! That is just another part of the real estate game in the 202 (in DC proper). Needless to say but there is nothing sexy about preparing a house for sale , especially when you are working full-time and have a toddler, 3 cats, and a very special dog to take keep happy.

Then came the whole listing process. Ugh. Average days on the market on Capitol Hill is about 6 days, which seems Garden_Homecompletely doable when living in what is close to a museum with a toddler, 2 cats, and a very special dog. Except for us it turned into 66 days on the market. What does that mean? That means several times a day you get a text message and stop everything you are doing at a moment’s notice to…

  1. Viciously clean the house and make sure it looks museum perfect.
  2. Get the dog into the car.
  3. Get the baby ready, no matter if he is napping or hungry or needs a diaper change.
  4. Get out the door.
  5. Find something to do for the next 1-2 hours depending on how long the showing is. No matter how cold you are or hungry or tired or sick or anything else. You have to be out of the house.
    – We walked and we walked and we walked. In the sun, in the cold, and in the rain, we walked.
    – We sat in the car for hours on Saturday and Sunday nights when it was raining or too cold to walk.
    – We left the dog in the car and got dinner and then sat in the car while we ate dinner.
    – For months our weekends evolved around doing only things you can do with a dog like go to the farm, go to a walking park, hiking, and anything else outdoors. That was probably the highlight of the whole process.
  6. Now repeat and do this all over again 2-3 times a day for 66 days while working a full-time job.

Home_SnowI am not going to put lipstick on a pig. It sucked big time. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to give us back the time we lost with the damn showings. There were even times in this rather horrible process where our son was playing at a special activity across town and my husband had to literally pick him up and run out of the place to get home before a very short notice showing. I mentioned earlier that we have a special dog, well he is the sweetest and most amazing dog with us (his 3 humans) but he is scared to death of strangers and scared dogs bite. So getting the dog out of the house before a showing was absolutely critical.

Throughout the 66 days there were a lot of “close calls” in getting an offer, a lot of interested buyers but in the end they didn’t choose our house. Finally at a point of desperation, and at the point of basically giving up, we finally got an offer and for asking price. Talk about a sigh of relief. Then came the anxiety of the home inspection, which is stressful when you have a historic home that is nearly 120 years old. At the end of the day a house is not sold until it is sold. On the financing and underwriting process, right in the middle of the holidays. If you guessed delays and an uncertain closing date, you were right! Could any more stress and anxiety be added to this process? I guess so. But FINALLY we closed.

To top it off, right in the midst of this home selling process I also had a major job and professional transition with no Kai in Snowvacation time in-between. I am not going to kid you, selling your first home is also emotional even if you bought almost exclusively for investment purposes. We made this home ours. We poured endless time and energy into making it beautiful. We planted the tulip bulbs, daffodils, and cherry blossom tree that bloom every spring. We’ve shared endless dinners at this house with friends and family. This house is filled with memories that can never be relived. It is the home we brought our baby home to. And now it is going to be someone else’s home.

Then its on to the actual moving process but I will save that for another post. 🙂

Restless at 3 Years

19 Jul

I have come to find a pattern in myself, and also in that of a few of my colleagues.  I develop a deep seated sense of restlessness when I near the 3 year marker in any professional trajectory.  There is just something inside me that tells me it is time to move on and find my next endeavor, the next challenge, the next place to make my mark and leave a legacy.  I am there now.  I feel it in my heart, in my veins.  At the same time, I feel as though there are so many loose ends that I need to tidy up, put the final touches on some projects.  There is always more work to be done, more ways something (no, everything!) can be made better, more effective, more accurate.  But my 3 years in this endeavor are coming to a close.

I am ready, unlike ever before.  It’s not that I am unhappy.  Rather I truly enjoy the everyday challenge of my work.  I believe in the mission and find it completely satisfying.  But this transition is different than all prior, I have been cognizant that this time is coming and instead of resisting it, I have chosen to embrace it.  I have been planning for it like I never have before, maybe thats what happens when you become experienced in managing transitions?

I have found camaraderie among several colleagues in our shared sense of restlessness when he hit the 3 year threshold of a given job.  We share this inherent sense that its time to move on, to invest our time and energy in some other endeavor.  We spend the first 6 months focused on learning, absorbing the new endeavor and all its nuances, then we chart out our roadmap for how we are going to leave it better than it was when came.

This time around, the restlessness is different than it was before.  While I am excited about what lies ahead professionally, I have also made very deliberative decisions that are unlike those in the past.  I have put health and family first.  My number one priority is a better quality of life for my family and I.  That means so many things… working less; loving more; laughing more; smiling more; cooking more; painting more; making music more; running more; meditating more; and so many other things that are not traditional working.  Am I going to continue to work?  Absolutely yes!  All of the “work” I do are intellectual and creative outlets for my restless soul.  While I have achieved a much better work life balance, I have not yet gotten into the right balance.

A few guiding zen words as I move on in this transition of sorts…

  1. Do one thing at a time
  2. Do it slowly and deliberately
  3. Do it completely
  4. Do less
  5. Put space between things
  6. Develop rituals
  7. Designate time for certain things
  8. Devote time to sitting
  9. Smile and serve others
  10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation
  11. Think about what is necessary
  12. Live simply

Color photo of Peruvian child with llama

Open my heart and you will see…

17 Apr

Italy, and the Spring, and first love – all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.
– Bertrand Russell

 

It was late morning on New Year’s eve day as our high speed Trenitalia, which was traveling at over 220 miles per hour, came to a hault.  We had arrived in the romantic and iconic Florence, Italy – also known as Firenze.  It was a cold and sunny winter day, colorful graffiti decorated the walls and tunnels of the train stations, representing the most brusque and modern art that adorns this fine historic city.  I should mention that Kai was completely in awe just from the train ride.   The Tuscan landscape is like none other.  Much delightful Chianti Classico and divine tuscan cuisine also awaited us.

Graffiti in the train station

We exited the train station and made a dash for a taxi to take us to our hotel.  We were determined to make the most out of our first day in Florence, and ensure that we had a chance to find our way through the romantic streets of Florence before the New Year’s celebration began.  After checking-in and getting settled in our hotel, off we went back into the center of Florence.  Our first stop – the Basilica di Santa Maria de Flore – the main church of Firenze.  And was it grand! The exterior is faced with marble panels in varying shades of green and pink. It’s duomo soars above all of the historic buildings and defines the Firenze landscape from all the hillside neighbors that surround city center.

 

Duomo view in Firenze

We spent hours that afternoon walking the streets, getting lost, and simply having the time of our life savoring all Firenze had to offer on New Year’s eve.  Nightfall came alive in this bustling city. Artists painted the streets (literally) while musicians carried on.  Vendors were everywhere, selling all the little light-up gadgets one can imagine.  Eventually we found our way to a great little place for an early New Year’s dinner – Ristorante Toto – and it was amazing.  Course after course of pure Italian indulgence: Antipasta; insalata verde; fried artichoke hearts; calamari; house made ravioli; perfectly grilled t-bone; and of course dessert… traditional profiteroles.  And how can I forget to mention the champagne and bottle of Chianti Classico that we washed it down with.  We spent a couple hours in this quaint little place.  At the table next to ours was a kind Russian couple who were absolutely in love with Kai.  They insisted on playing with him and holding him in between courses of food.  And Kai was of course entertained by their friendliness and new voices.  It was a wonderful dinner that marked the end of 2013, one of the best year’s of our life.

Street artists

T-Bone steak

Antipasta cart

After dinner, we continued to walk the streets of Firenze.  Then we stopped into a small shop, grabbed a bottle of wine, and headed back to our hotel.  From the fifth floor of our hotel we watched the New Year’s eve fireworks that lit-up the Florence skyline at the stroke of midnight while sweet Kai slept peacefully next to us.  It was a New Year’s eve we will remember forever.

Punto Vecchio at dusk

Fireworks over Florence

Kai Discovers Spring – and Dirt!

10 Apr

I love the changing of the seasons.  And I really love the two transitional seasons – Spring and Fall.  This time last year Kai was just one month old.  While I have no doubt that he loved everything about Spring, I also realize that he wasn’t ready to discover what spring time is all about.  What a difference a year makes!  This is by far the most “fun” Spring I can remember since my childhood, I hardly know where to begin.

This past Sunday we rolled up our sleeves and worked on our garden.  We had been looking forward to this for well over a month since winter had decided to stick around a few extra weeks this year.  The first day in the garden is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love the smell of the Earth, the way it feels in my fingers.  I love spring planting.  Digging holes and finding all sorts of earth worms and other natural “treasures”.  Even though my patch of paradise is in the midst of a concrete jungle, I feel connected to Earth when I work in the garden.

This year was better than all those past because we were able to introduce Kai to all this Spring and the Earth.  We brought him outside with us for the day while we worked and pretty much let him do his thing, it was awesome!  He took the garden completely naturally.  He started out by playing with the grass and leaves.  Then he crawled off of the blanket and started to pick blades of grass and put them in his bucket.  He watched us on and off as we did him.  We were busy planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables.  Next thing I know he had the garden spade in his hand and he was digging in the dirt, filling-up his bucket and dumping it out. t was at this point that we brought him over to big bed and let him play in all the dirt.  He loved it! He laughed and played, putting his hand in the Earth and lifting them up so he could feel the fresh dirt between his fingers.  It was magical. It is Spring!

Enjoy the Spring photo journey.

Fountain Cherry in DC

 

Cherry Blossom

 

Spring Gardening

 

Discovering Spring and the Earth

 

Spring in Washington DC

 

Spring Serenity in a Concrete Jungle

Connecting with our Roots

7 Mar

Like many others I have Native American blood running in my veins.  On first appearance I may look to be from one of Europe’s nordic lands but in reality I am as American as one can get with a diversity of blood lines.  The ancestry I’ve connected the most with throughout my life is of the various Native American tribes that make-up my being.  I’ve always felt a deep sense of connection with this part of my ancestry.

I have such fond memories of spending time with my father and Aunt Hunter on the reservations in northern Minnesota in the summers.  We would spend our days fishing in the lakes, building campfires in the evening, and listening the sounds of nature as we slept.  We also spent some of our days walking for miles and miles down dirt paths in search of the Wild Buffalo – and yes they do still exist.  I remember when we ran into a cowbird defending its territory and we sat and watched for what seemed like hours.  And one afternoon we stumbled upon a water moccasin cascading and slithering down the river where we had been fishing.  The list of memories could go on and on.

As a young girl I spent many weekends with my mother, grandparents, and other family members at Native American festivals.   We’d also savor all the delicious traditional cuisine – stew, fry bread, buffalo, and the list goes on.  We’d spend time with the rescued birds of prey, and we would weave baskets and other traditional crafts.  We’d make our own dreamcatchers adorned with beads and feathers, and carefully hung them above our beds or by windows at bedtime.  We would spend the days around the dance circling – watching, listening, feeling, and sometimes joining in.  There will always be something innate in me that will draw me into the song of the drum and flute, and the natural movement of Native American dance.  I still listen to my collection of Native American music regularly.  I found that when I was pregnant and even when Kai was a small baby, I would always play it for him too – reminding me to stay connected with my roots.

When I was in college I remained connected to this part of me through art, music, dance, and regular visits to a colleagues sweat lodge.  I drew and painted the rhythms that I felt as a child and young adult.  I cleansed my soul and being at my colleague’s sweat lodge.  And I still hold close to me a rock that was given to me at my last visit to the lodge before I embarked on my life’s journey down to Central America.

All of these memories of connecting with my roots hold a special place in my heart.

The first museum we took Kai to was the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (by far my favorite!) when he was just a week old.  While I carried him in the ergo, I read him all of the ancient Native American creation stories throughout the museum.  It was a special moment with Kai, his Nanna, and I. This past October marked another special moment for my family and I, as we were able to introduce Kai to his roots by taking him to our local annual Native American festival.  There they played many of the same rhythms and danced similar dances in traditional attire.  Again it reminded me of where I come from – of where we all come from. Kai was mesmerized by the music and of course the traditional attire – feathers, beads, bells, and ornately decorated blankets.  He also tasted venison stew for the first time, was able to see a falcon up close, and even pet a horse.  Then I brought him into the center of the dance circle with all of the other children and together we danced the traditional bunny dance.  He smiled and smiled.  I was able to guide him in connecting with his roots for the very first time.

Baby Watching Traditional Native American Dance

There is a battle of two wolves inside us all.
One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.
The wolf that wins?  The one you feed.
– Cherokee Proverb


Traditional Native American Dancing and Song

First Birthday Love Letter

27 Feb

Dear Sweet Baby Kai,

I write this just two days before your first birthday.  I look back on my life just one year ago and I remember so clearly the anticipation I felt, I couldn’t wait to meet you.  The remember the night that I went into labor.  I cooked a spicy Moroccan lamb stew and then I took Tico out on a long winter walk.  It was very cool but with you I walked and walked.  My body felt heavy, because it was, and it felt energizing to be walking.  I did this nearly every evening.  One year later and we still do it together, only now we get to sing songs while we walk and point out fun things along the way.  Sweet Kai, you bring so much joy to my life.

This year has been the best year of my life.  I have loved more this year than I have in my whole life, and I know I have a lifetime of love still to give you.  I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am that you have chosen us as your parents.  Our life is filled with so much love.  Your are the most beautiful soul.

Those first days were both awkward and amazing.  I fumbled my way through changing your diapers and together we figured out the whole nursing thing.  For the record your Papa is far better at changing diapers than I am.  We have a special bond that only Mama and son can have through nursing.  I am so grateful that we figured it out, and you still love drinking the warm sweet milk I make just for you.  And when you do, you gaze lovingly into my eyes.  Sometimes you play with my hair, touch my face, and smile.  I love every minute of it.  It is one of those moments each day that I wish I could just press pause and savor forever.  But I can’t stop time.

mama baby moment

We have had so many great adventures this year.  Our greatest adventure has been the day-to-day moments of life together – all of your little milestones, your beautiful personality shining through, and your smile… it lights up every moment.  We have also done some amazing things together. We visited a farm where you got to pet a baby pig, goats, and peacocks.  We went to the botanical gardens and had a sleepover with your Padrino and Aunt Kristy.  We go hiking a lot where we enjoy all the intricacies and serenity that mother nature provides.  We travelled to Connecticut and Costa Rica to spend time with our family, they all ADORE you to pieces.  We explored the splendor of Italy together.  I could go on and on, there are so many more moments.

Mama kissing baby

Watching you grow and develop in the most beautiful little boy is the best part of my life.  I love it.  Watching and listening to you play with the pots and pans, and sometimes banging along with you! Its a blast. Seeing your fun interactions with Tico and the kitties, and your attempt to chase them is most entertaining.  Oh our little DC row house is just exploding with life! The adorable grunting sounds you make as you dodge through the house on your hands and knees at full speed.  Watch out World Kai is here! The sweet way that you give me kisses with your mouth wide open, and each kiss fills me with more love.  Our evening bath time is so much fun.  I never knew that I too could have so much fun in just a few inches of water.  I love the way you snuggle up with me at night while we sleep.  Oh sweet baby Kai, I could go on and on.  I’m in love.

As we approach this big milestone in just a couple of days, I want to pay tribute to this most incredible year.  I realize that life is always going to be amazing with you, but it is not ever going to be like our very first year together.  We can’t turn back the clocks or calendars.  We will never be able to re-live these milestones with you.  They are once in a lifetime memories. While I know that there are many more to come, I can’t help but shed a few tears knowing that this first year has come and gone so fast.  All that really matters sweet baby Kai is that I love you forever and ever.  You are my baby and you always will be.  You mean the World to me and I can’t wait to spend a lifetime with you.

Happy 1st birthday sweet baby Kai.

With all the love in my heart,
Your Mama

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