Monday, June 29, 2009

Updates Grab Bag

This is Westminster Presbyterian Church-- the back of it, anyways. Maxine and I were walking last Friday and took several pictures of it. It looks best in sepia, I think.
Raquel stayed at her great-grandparents' house last week from Monday to Saturday. Poor Grandma! Not only is Raquel relentless with activity and conversation, which is more than enough for a great-grandma to handle, but also Grandpa was feeling ill the entire time Raquel was there. So Grandma had no help at all with Raquel and no time to herself either. Wow! She did say that Raquel was very well-behaved and of course taking care of a well-behaved child is tons easier than the alternative. This was Raquel's first time spending that many nights away from home and not to my surprise, she never got homesick. Jose, Maxine and I had a nice quiet week. To me, the peace was very refreshing. Thank you SO much, Grandma Emma.
I found these sweet potato fries in the frozen food section at Target a few weeks ago and I'm hooked. They are healthy enough for me to eat and stay on my diet and I'm so glad because they are delicious. Maxine really enjoys them, too. It has to be this particular brand though because the other sweet potato fries are covered in an evil batter. These are innocent and plain.


This is my second week of school and I'm so glad this class is only five weeks long. I highly prefer to do my own work but in this class we "pair up" or get into groups of three DAILY. I am against compromising the level of work I do for a grade but in groups you cannot avoid this. Being paired with people who cannot write in complete sentences quietly frustrates me. But the teacher did say last week that she does not grade on spelling and grammar and that she is only concerned with our critical reading skills. So, technically, it doesn't matter but it still REALLY GETS TO ME.
How do you throw a party for your kids' birthdays, invite everyone you know and not get caught up in the stress of planning? If you know how, I am seriously asking! I feel like if things aren't perfect then I might as well not do them at all. There is no changing that about me. So I guess I'm probably doomed to feel this way every year around this time! And then when the party's over, I'll be fine.
And here is a snapshot of Maxine dancing to her new favorite dvd, Rufus Wainwright at the Fillmore. Yep, she's got taste. I'm telling you she stares at him singing and it even calms her down when she's cranky.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Backpacks Are Unfashionable

I just don’t want to look like a turtle, OK? But after my first three days of school, carrying a folder, a dictionary, a big text book, a notebook, a journal, a sweater and my purse, and walking to and from my car parked at least 4 blocks away from campus (on purpose for exercise) I went and bought myself a bag (not a backpack) I found on clearance at Target. I can’t wait to see how it feels to walk all that way and have fairly free arms and hands.

School is fun, so far. I’m just taking an English class right now for that’s all that was left by the time I registered. It is transferrable to any university, not a prerequisite or a just-for-fun course, so that makes it feel even more worthwhile. I have to admit, I am surprised at how remedial the work has been these first three days. Yes, we have had homework every night and we also do writing assignments in class daily but it’s all easy stuff, like a high school class—“Ok, partner up with someone and answer the questions on page 248” (ugh, I’m not a fan of partnering up in class), or “Who would like to read the next paragraph?”. We answer tons of true-or-false and multiple choice questions, as if the teacher only wants to know that we’re reading the passages she assigns. Just like high school. The class is only five quick weeks long and I can’t help but wonder if and when it’s going to get challenging. Maybe this is exactly what I need to ease myself back into studentry.
(that's the Pasadena Public Library)
Since when does it cost $14 for a paperback novel? It seems like yesterday I paid about $4.95. Those days are over. Well, I’m not paying that much for a paperback. Thanks for my new library card, Pasadena! By the way, this library reminds me of the one in Ghostbusters! I want to start spending more (alone) time there. Raquel is spending the week at her great-grandparent’s house. I dropped her off on Monday. We had a nice visit before I left and I also brought home a giant zucchini from their lovely garden. It's as big as a newborn baby human... Maxine is such a sweet thing. She does a lot of dancing now—twisting, bouncing and bobbing her head. She has a favorite commercial, too. It’s an El Pollo Loco ad about their chicken sliders (I think). Maxine suddenly is afraid of some things: the face of James in the Thomas and Friends series and also the little Collie statue next to Grandma Emma’s piano at her house (see picture above). She laughs and shouts funny things all the time but she has not yet said a real word. She enjoys feeding herself and wants nothing to do with baby food but I actually enjoy being able to give her pieces of what I’m eating now that her digestive system is ready for it. Oh, a funny thing: if your feet are in her reach, she lays on them, like she’s snuggling or kissing them. I think it’s because we have always kissed her feet ever since she was born. She’s returning the love. Jose is still looking for work but I’m confident he will find something soon. He knows a lot of people, people who can help him find what he’s looking for. We’re living on our last bit of cash but I have to say it’s been nice having him home since his restaurant closed down last week. He’s very supportive of me going to school and I am grateful for that support.
Thanks for checking in on us!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shoreline Village, Long Beach, CA

Now that Jose's restaurant has closed down he has a little more free time (in between networking for new jobs). Yesterday was his first full day off. We decided to get out of the San Gabriel Valley. Since it was our first sunny day in about 2 weeks (sheesh!), Jose took us to Shoreline Village in Long Beach. There isn't really much to do there but eat, walk, peruse and photograph stuff. We had worn pants since we'd grown accustomed to the coolish weather we've been having but it was actually pretty warm and shorts would've been much more comfortable.
Jose and the girls had some ice cream. I like to watch Maxine try things that are new to her. She's such a sport and loves to try everything. Then Jose and Raquel played a little bit in the arcade while Maxine and I looked at a water fountain and enjoyed the beach air.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sudden Improvement!

Yesterday I made something that required egg whites which left me with a couple of homeless yolks. So, remembering that egg yolks are something a baby Maxine's age can try to eat, I made her scrambled yolks with a tiny bit of salt, pepper and chili powder. I tasted first. They were notably delicious. She tried them. She liked them. And she did not choke on them. So I put several tiny pieces on her tray and let her feed herself. She did this successfully for about 20 minutes while I finished what I was baking. I was thrilled. She really liked egg yolks!

So, suddenly I have hope that Maxine is going to get pretty good at eating semi-solid foods. Something I can't quite control yet is the way she feeds herself a bottle. Her new game is this: I hand her a bottle, she sips it for about a minute, then she pulls it out of her mouth, turns it upside down and bounces it on her tray, like a bingo marker, getting milk all over the tray and her clothes. I tell her not to do it, she giggles. I give her another chance, she does it again. I put the bottle away and say, "All done baba." She giggles and goes on with her life. It seems she only drinks a bottle when she's really super hungry or wants comfort from falling and bumping her head (but she only gets a post-injury bottle if I know it's been a while since she's had one. The typical post-injury comfort is lots of snuggles). I know this is the age to introduce a sippy cup but I tried that when she turned 9 months and she was obviously not ready for it. Now that she is 10 months+ I could introduce it again but I see how she plays with her bottles now and I don't think I should. I don't know.

Raquel was with me in the kitchen for a while yesterday while Maxine ate her egg yolks. She was helping me make cookies. I think she looks very mature here in this picture, scraping ingredients off the mixer attachment...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Maxine: 10 Months + 1 Week

I cannot believe Maxine is going to turn 1 year old next month. I'm so thankful she has been healthy and normal all this time. Besides her bout with teething at the age of 5 months, she has been very pleasant and easily entertained. It is usually pretty easy to put her to bed, although lately when I put her in bed she gets right up and stands holding onto the crib rail, jumping and talking it up. Then she eventually gets tired, whines a little bit (I listen from another room) and falls asleep. When I'm sure she's sound asleep, I quietly enter her room and cover her up with her blankets.
Her Uncle James is hardly ever around but just last Saturday he came over and played with Maxine for a while and we both heard her say her first word: "Ooh-ka". I must explain... When Raquel was a toddler, she used to call James "Ooh-ka James" as she could not pronounce the word "Uncle". We all started calling him "Ooh-ka" on a regular basis. Now, when he comes over, I tell Maxine, "Look, it's Ooh-ka!". So, last weekend, I said this to her and she said, "n-KA!" James said, "Did you hear that?!" So we tested her by repeating "Ooh-ka" and she'd respond each time with, "n-KA!" It was so funny! But the thing is, now she's saying, "Ka!" all the time when she tries to say something. I think she liked the excited response she got from us when we thought she was trying to say James' nickname and now she just uses "Ka!" for almost everything. It's still something. Now that I know she can recognize certain words and sounds, I am always annunciating key words, like, "bath", "daddy" and, "night-night" in hopes she will try to copy me.
Maxine seems to have a sensitive gag reflex and still cannot eat solid food, not even semi-solid food, like a tiny piece of bread, without gagging or choking a little. At this age, Raquel was already picking up half-pieces of Cheerios and feeding them to herself without a problem. Maxine does do the pincer grasp and is able to pick up very tiny objects but she's definitely not ready for the responsibility of feeding herself with her fingers. So Maxine and I just practice a little everyday with semi-solid food. She has 6 teeth and does chew with them--I really don't know why she so often gags/chokes. It makes me think of when she was a newborn and scared me so often by choking while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Makes me wonder...