Saturday, December 29, 2007

Looking back. Looking forward.

Here we are again..on the eve of another new year. Like the Roman god for which it is named, January is a time when we look both forwards and back. Since we'll be spending a boring evening at home, like the parents that we are, I thought I'd get a jump start on some blogging.

Here are a few of my favorite moments in 2007.

March 2007 - Miss Mina at the park in Florida. This might have been her first time in a swing alone. As you can see, her joy was self-evident. Like any parent, I compare my two monkeys along their developmental milestones, but also the little things. The quirky little differences in personality they have. They are so close in age, it feels like I'm raising twins. One of the many nice things about that small age gap is that my memory is still pretty fresh for the details. I can clearly remember the first time I put Jordan in a baby swing at the park. True to the personality he still demonstrates today, he was much more cautious, much quieter, and much more careful about the whole thing.

Mina, in the other hand, almost snorted with laughter when she flew through the air. She continues to be fearless in the face of situations involving potential physical danger. I'm not sure how I feel about this. But, that day at the park, her gummy smile was infectious.

Jordan and Grace look out on the water. That same trip, we had a quiet little moment on the gazebo overlooking the small lake near Grace's house. I snapped the pic in an almost hushed moment of intensity. I wanted to capture the stillness of the two of them. If just for a minute.

May 2007 - Jordan upstate, NY.

This year we visited my parents up at the family homestead, and once again, Jordan embraced the flora and fauna like a true country boy. I love this about him. Up there, he ran through the tall grass, happily blew dandelion spores a/k/a "poofs" all over the lawn, and listened intently as I explained one species of bird, plant, or another to him on our walks. His ability to focus, and listen, and ask questions amazes me. It amazes me that we have conversations now, that he's inquisitive and engaging, and loves to explore.

May 2007 at the Aquarium, Coney Island.

Continuing in that vein, Jordan had a fun time at the NY Aquarium during his first visit. He stood at the main fish tank near the entrance, entranced by the many varieties of aquatic wonders. He was so happy. So unabashedly happy. I love that about kids. They don't hide what they are feeling. And their joy can be so pure sometimes, it almost hurts to see.

May 2007, Riz's graduation, Buffalo.

May was a busy month. It was also the first time, I was ever away from both my monkeys for any extended period of time. In May, I travelled solo to Buffalo to see my baby brother graduate from medical school. It was awesome. Apart from sharing in the proud moment of watching him accept his medical degree, I thoroughly enjoyed my indulgent time away from the brood. I slept in, got a massage, and enjoyed a few meals without one child or another smearing something sticky on my clothes. You see the white linen shirt I am wearing in the picture? Believe me, it never makes an appearance in the regular course of my life as a mom. It wouldn't last a minute.

June 2007.

Back to life. Back to reality. In June we travelled to California. A long flight was quickly forgotten as we enjoyed the monkeys interacting with their west coast cousins. It was such a blast seeing them all together.

Mina at the pool in California. The beautiful weather was only part of it. Our hosts, Richard and Audrey, went to so much trouble to make us comfortable, to keep our days filled with kid friendly activities, etc. Miss Mina enjoyed herself to no end. This kid loves the water.

June 2007. Town Carnival. Going down the big slide.

You know how sometimes an idea seems good when you think of it, but then you actually have to execute? At that moment, in the middle of it, you find yourself wondering, "what the hell am I doing?

I try not to have too many of those moments anymore, because after all, I'm a mom now and all, and damn..I'm supposed to be responsible, and model good behaviour and such for the kids. But I still have my stupid parenting moments. Here was one of them. It seemed like a fun idea at the time. Let's take the monkey down the big slide at the carnival. He had recently overcome his fear of the slides at the park. I thought, "why not challenge him a bit? I'll be right there with him."


Even as we climbed the pitch-steep wobbling steel stairs, I pondered the potential humiliation of turning around and slinking back down. I tried to ignore the five year olds racing to get ahead of me. And then, I sat there on the top of the slide, Monkey in my arms, the entire contraption swaying in the breeze, and I prayed I would make it to the bottom.

We did. The best part? Hearing the Monkey's giddy little laugh as we rocketed down the slope. "Again." He said, as we reached the bottom.

July 2007. Once you have kids, spending some time alone as a couple becomes a rare and precious thing. Organized people may have a standing date night, but that's something we haven't quite managed yet. On the rare occasion when Monkey Sr. and I get a chance to go on a "date," it's usually pretty memorable. I think Miss Mina is proof of that. But, I digress.

In July, we tried to go out and see Fantasia on Broadway. Fate conspired against us, but we did enjoy an amazing meal at the Fig and Olive. It was wonderful. We ate, we drank, we talked. Like adults. No time outs. No spilled beverages. No pleadings to "try one bite." A quiet civilized conversation. It was bliss.

July 2007, random shot captured, the monkeys hug.

I make fun of my kids constantly. Behind their back, I laugh at their ridiculous little idiosyncrasies, the funny things they said or did that day. I also bemoan their constant sibling battles and bruises, and pray that one day they will learn to love each other. Sometimes, they surprise me, and actually act like they do. I managed to grab my camera in time to capture such a moment for posterity, and felt my heart flutter for just one second. They actually look like they like each other!

July 2007 Mina's birthday.

July also marked Miss Mina's first birthday. Does every mother marvel at how fast those first twelve months go by? Do they pass even faster when you have more than one child? It felt that way. One minute I was bringing her home from the hospital, holding her close to me in the middle of the night, and the next, I was sitting her up in a chair with a huge chocolate cake in front of her. One minute she was this tiny little bundle of sleeping softness, and the next - she was this spitfire of energy and personality, bursting into a room with squeals and smiles.

Nikki in Chicago.

Shortly after Mina's big birthday, we travelled to Chicago to give a presentation at the organ donor organization responsible for coordinating Jordan's transplant. While there, we got a chance to spend some time with Nikki again, and it was the highlight of the trip. A new baby, a new husband, and a bright smile were just a few of the beautiful sights I got to see. It was the first time the monkeys had ever stayed in a hotel, and they aren't the most adaptable of creatures. But seeing Nikki again made it all worth it.

August 2007, after Julia's birthday party. Mina's chocolate face.

That day in August was memorable for us for many reasons. One of them was the fact that we had no serviceable water. A freak lightning storm took out the water treatment plan in the area. The next day, we listened to news reports warning us to boil all water before using it. Did my kids notice? No. They gorged themselves on chocolate cake and laughed like loons as I bathed them in the kitchen sink using a pot of boiled and cooled water. Sometimes it's as easy as you let it be.

September 2007, Jordan starts school.

God. What can I say? I looked back on the posts I wrote during this time, and came to the conclusion that this was my favorite blog post of the year. It basically sums up the dual competing schizophrenia that is my brand of parenting. I said it best, at the time.

September 2007 - the pool at the Outer Banks.

I look forward to this time all year long. We plan, we discuss, I think about how the air feels on my skin in the early morning hours. And each year, we manage to capture some of the most beautiful pictures of the kids there in the splashed golden Southern light. This is one of my favorite places ever.

October 2007 - Halloween

I love Halloween. I LOVE it. It is my favorite holiday of the year, and I celebrate it with all the pageantry of a royal wedding. The minute the calendar says October, I am in full Halloween mode. We have Halloween playdates, we bake Halloween cupcakes, I fuss over costumes and candy, and decorating, and Halloween cartoons on tv. And my kids are going to love it too, dammit.

November 2007 - the family reunion

It was a long time in the making, but the family gathered from near and far and enjoyed a Thanksgiving together in Arizona. Little Monkey was sick, and we had an unexpected detour to the local children's hospital. Despite that, the kids rallied and had a great time. We ate, we mingled, we spa -ed.

Oh yeah. And in the course of entertaining the monkeys, I stumbled upon my old nemesis. Galaga. This model was a hybrid Galaga/Ms. Pacman model. But I was not distracted. It was Galaga or nothing for me baby. After this, I lost my mind, and have no idea what happened for awhile. I think Monkey Sr. took over the childcare. I dunno. Did I ever mention I was a Galaga fiend? A high scorer? That somewhere in some warehouse, there is a Galaga machine with my initials as THE NUMBER ONE HIGH SCORER? God, I love this game. If I had an unlimited amount of money and square footage, and no kids to keep an eye on, I would buy one of these full size machines and install it in my bedroom.

I did manage to tear myself away from Galago long enough to appreciate the trip taken by my brother, Osman and his wife Dallice. They drove all the way from Colorado to visit with us while we were in Arizona. Spending time with them was such a treat.

December 2007

And then, suddenly, it was December. The year was quickly drawing to a close in the frenzy of parties, presents and holiday festivities.


Am I done? No.

What I'm looking forward to in 2008. I can't name everything, and I'm suspicious enough to avoid tempting fate by saying too much. There are a few things that I am eagerly awaiting.

Becoming an aunt.

Seeing old friends and a mini vacation solo in Georgia,

Jordan turning three

Mina turning two.

Becoming a better woman, mother, wife, daughter, sister, writer, cook, crafter, photographer, and friend.

Happy New Year everyone! Be safe. Be joyous! I hope the new year brings you all the blessings of family, good health, and much love.


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