Friday, February 27, 2009

Uppa Sky

Lately, Gideon has been on a singing spree. He likes to join me when I sing some of those Noggin songs that Moose A. Moose sings in between some of his favorite programs. One particular song that he's been unable to get out of his head is one that he recently sang during Storytime at the Paramus Public Library, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. When you play the video below, you'll soon hear for yourself why I called this post, "Uppa Sky."

And, here's a bonus video of Lucia at play, with her big brother not far behind.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gideon Makes Lucia Laugh

Gideon is a funny kid and makes his little sister laugh often. Here's an example.

Note: Alexa and I apologize for the low quality video.

Rice Cereal for Lucia

Lucia's first day eating rice cereal. In this photo, she just finished her meal. She is sitting in the high chair all by herself, so very proud of what she just accomplished.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mirror Image

I'm on the road alot to take my kids to my mom's house, who cares for them during the day at no cost, though I owe her a large chunk of my life. One day, I looked in the rear view mirror (which, by the way I think is an oxymoron because you always see what's behind you with any mirror). Anyway, as I was looking in the mirror, I glanced at Gideon as he was gazing out the window. I also saw part of Lucia's car seat, though I couldn't really see her face since her car seat is still facing the rear of the car.

At a red light, I got a glimpse of life.

Life was reflected in the mirror, but as soon as the light turns green, I'll step on the gas and then, life will start passing me by. Indeed, the light turns green, and I move forward. The images in the mirror move further and further away from me. While, there wasn't really anything interesting happening in the mirror worth mentioning, I did get a sense that life was passing by, rapidly.

My parents worked hard to put my sister, my brother, and me through private (Catholic) school. To them, it was a sacrifice worth making considering the public school system in Jersey City at the time. Jersey City is a new town these days. I almost don't recognize it when I visit one of my best friends, Jeff, who is a Washington DC and Pittsburgh native.

Perhaps you pass by Chill Town (Jersey City) on your way to work to NYC and you'll notice some of the tall buildings in the Newport Centre and Exchange Place sections, not far from the Holland Tunnel. When I grew up, all that acreage was one expansive empty lot with bottle caps and broken glass encrusted atop the pavement, near the cracks filled up with weeds.

I used to play there with my brother often. We tossed a baseball around talking about our teams - my brother about the Yankees and me about the Mets. I knew the game, but didn't know much about it. I mean, I liked a guy on the Mets with the name of Joel Youngblood. I didn't even know why (This is before the 86 Championship). Other times, my brother and I would play handball on a graffitti-filled wall while my dad waxed his skyblue Chevette.

We were not rich, but my parents gave me the best that they could provide so that I didn't have to go through what they went through. I'll never say we were poor though because even if the rent was paid a little late sometimes, there was always a roof over our heads. They tried not to do it in front of me, but sometimes my parents argued about money, or lack thereof.

Today, I'm the dad with kids. While I live in a pretty good town with an OK school system, I understand my parents decision to work their hearts out - for us ... for me. We don't own a home and with little income coming in, I've been stressed lately. So Alexa and I have sniped at each other as she mentioned in an earlier post. We're working hard as a team during this tough time, as my parents did.

This week, there was a period of days where no work at all came across my desk. I've been recently demoted. Even after several months of complaining that not enough work was coming in, the financial situation kept deteriorating. So I had to speak up. I have a tendency of being a little too forward sometimes, which is sometimes construed as confrontational. When the news that potentially no more work will be arriving at my desk as a result of a misunderstanding, I blew up. I got upset, closer to enraged.

All I could think about was how was I going to keep a roof over my children's heads. I thought aloud in the presense of my wife and kids that at this rate we'll be out on the street, or worse, have to move in with the in-laws! (he he... just a little joke =).... now back to being serious).

Then, my wife, my life partner talked some sense into me. As if divinely inspired, she picks Lucia up and asks me to hold her. I was still burning up because of the lack of work coming in and the reasoning behind it. I refused to take Lucia because I was angry and I didn't want her to feel my stress. But, Alexa insisted. So, I take Lucia., rub my cheek to her chubby cheeks. I raise her up in the sky and say, "Super Baby!"

Alas, I began to hold back tears. Perhaps this is what Alexa wanted. She knows that I'm really a teddy bear and that my rants are just temporary puffs of smoke. I became emotional because I remembered how my parents sacrificed for me, but not just for me, for my children too. For if I was successful, they would be successful, and so would my children. I teared because I didn't feel successful, at least not anymore. I teared because Lucia's innocence overtook the humanity that took control of me. I lost my vision. I lived only in the negativity of the moment, as opposed to seeing a hopeful tomorrow. I was affected by my little girl's presence because I felt that I have failed her and my family.

A few days later, I watched Kung Fu Panda ... yes, the cartoon movie with Jack Black as the Panda. I couldn't help but relate to the Panda, who at the outset of the movie, was a lover of Kung Fu, but not a practitioner ... much like me.

(ASIDE: Yes, I LOVE old Kung Fu movies where the actors' lips don't match the actual English words you hear).

So, as the story of Kung Fu Panda unfolded, I started to get into it. I usually watch House Hunters, some history show, or CNN, but because we were unable to make a timely Cablevision payment, our cable service was cut, so I put on a movie to take my mind off things.

I saw how Kung Fu Panda was selected to be the one to fight and defeat the antagonist of the story (sorry, I'm not good with remembering character names). I felt like the Panda. I mean, I look like a Panda too. Here, see for yourself and imagine me doing a Kung Fu move.

But I also felt like I couldn't fulfill what I was called to do, just like Panda.

And, instead of believing that everything will just be fine, I fell prey to my fears only looking at the problem, as opposed to looking ahead to a better future, with God's help.

So, I continue battling for a better tomorrow and am hopeful, as are many Americans in this very tough economy.

Sorry, guys no pictures. This is my blog and I can cry if I want to. =) Not really crying though. Just venting, sharing, and being transparent.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BFF's 4 Life

Many of you have asked me how Gideon responds to Lucia. Well, let me tell you, Gideon and Lucia are the sweetest brother and sister ever. Lucia literally, lights up whenever she spots Gideon. Gideon wakes up in the morning, and runs over to "my baby".

Here is some photographic evidence of how much love there is between Gideon and Lucia.

Gideon clapping because he is finally allowed to hold Lucia.

Hey, look! One hand!

Lucia holding on for dear life.

Sitting watching TV together. Look at my poor baby's bald spot :(

One of Gideon's favorite lounging spots is right on Lucia's boppy pillow.

It looks like baby Lucia has inherited Mommy's frizzy hair. Sigh.

Hanging out.

Yikes. Too much love.

A Very Family Valentine's Day
Alex and I had already planned on staying in this Valentine's Day. We had gone out for date night last weekend, so we were prepared to make this V-day about us and the kids. I had spoken to some of the moms in storytime, and they had confirmed that, they too, would be celebrating at home with their kids. I was thinking of all sorts of fun activities to do with Gideon. Making a valentine for daddy, and maybe baking some kind of heart shaped cookie.

Unfortunately, by Thursday afternoon, I started feeling the twinges of a sore throat. By Thursday night, I was full on fever, coughing, and a really painful sore throat. I called out sick from work on Friday, and spent a miserable day at home with my kids, who were also sick. One thing they don't tell you in mom school, is that when you are sick, your kids don't magically disappear to a wonderful land where they are happy and taken care of, and reappear once you are back on your feet. All I wanted was to be in bed, but there were babies to feed, and books to read, and lunch to be made. Thankfully, on Friday night, my mom swept to the rescue and took Gideon overnight, and fed him dinner.
So, like last Valentine's Day, I was sick. Except last year, I was pregnant. However, like the year before last, Alex decided to surprise me with a culinary surprise. Now, if you know my husband at all, you know he doesn't like rules or directions. So, why follow a recipe, if he can just throw together ingredients from the pantry, and voila! out comes corn muffins and corn pancakes:
Here is a picture of me, being excited.
Here is a picture of breakfast. The plate on the right is a corn pancake with bacon and a fried egg.

After my mom dropped off Gideon, we decided to go out to Vitamia, an Italian speciality food store in Lodi. I bought a couple of packages of fresh, homemade, heart-shaped ravioli, and two homemade sauces. I am going to post pictures of the ravioli, but they did taste better than they photograph:
Cheese filled ravioli with bolognese sauce.
Same ravioli with sauce and fresh mozzarella. About to go into the oven.

Sun dried tomato ravioli with vodka sauce.

After dinner, Alex and I exchanged cards, and then the four of us hung out on our bed.
Here is Alex with the kids.
A picture of me with my babies. Notice Lucia looks like this is taking up too much of her precious time.
Mommy and Gideon laughing, while Lucia looks like she wishes she was adopted.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bedtime Wins

Lounging on the couch, bonding and relaxing, Alexa and Gideon seemingly have their eyes glazed over as if nothing was in their minds. The reality is that they are devising their own distinct strategies to overcome the next challenge of the day: bedtime.

Alexa's day was long today, as it was Lucia's Baby Presentation (sort of like a Christening) at church. In the morning, Alexa had to get a teething and irritated Lucia in her precious black and white Guess? dress, which by the way we found in Bloomingdale's for $14 on Friday. What a bargain huh?

Then, there was cake, juice, and coffee to be distributed after the morning service to hungry church congregants. After that - a brunch to go to with a large family of 18 people.

It all worked out, but Alexa was exhausted.

Gideon also had a long day. Because his sister was the baby of the day, he had the "fortune" (notice the quotation marks inferring sarcasm) of having Daddy pick out his clothes and dress him up. Then, when he was in church, he was rudely taken away from all the fun of children's church, where he's in the presence of toys galore, so that he can go upstairs to witness his little sister being the star of the show. Then, because we were all at brunch until about 3pm, he had a late nap, which he was not happy about at all.

Laying on their backs in the living room, Gideon's head resting on Alexa, they both know that the time is fast approaching. For Alexa, it means that she can finally sleep. For Gideon, there is a different meaning. Basically, he is thinking in his head "Oh No! It's time to go to bed! What can I do to distract my parents today?"

Gideon knows the routine. We read books before going to bed. One of his favorite books right now is Dinosaur vs. Bedtime.

I think he likes the story because he can relate to the little dinosaur who roared and conquered all of his challengers, a pile of leaves, a bowl a spaghetti, and toothbrushing, among other opponents. But Dinosaur's nemesis, bedtime, always wins. And, Gideon knows this because we've read the book dozens of times.

We pick up the book and begin to read. We continue and we all laugh and have a grand ole time. Gideon knows that the last several pages of the book describe how dinosaur always loses to bedtime. So, what does Gideon do? He exclaims "No, No" when we approach the end of the book. He literally tries to turn the pages back or forcefully take the book out of our hands. He's a strong kid, but he doesn't succeed. Sometimes he buys time by pointing to another, less interesting book that has suddenly grabbed his attention so much, that it becomes imperative that we pick it up and read it to him at once. But, this only works 50% of the time.

Eventually, we finish reading the book where it becomes clear to all of us that once again bedtime is the victor. Gideon can't believe it so he denies it by whining, as if to say, "let's start again, I'm sure the ending will be different next time."

As a united front, Alexa and I work together to gather some of his bears and stuffed toys that will accompany him to bed and then do our prayer, bid him good night and sweet dreams, and walk out. This is where the cries begin, the screeching, the yelling, the singing, the toy playing ... a lot like dinosaur when he's roaring. Finally, sleepiness takes over and bedtime wins, sometimes more than an hour later ... but Gideon's fast asleep.

After that, it doesn't take Alexa more than 5 minutes to fall asleep, since sleep is her friend and she wishes not to argue with it ... oh and as Lucia is already in her third dream of the night.

Now it's my turn. Good night.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Date Night

Life has been stressful lately. I have been stressed. With driving the kids back and forth to Newark everyday(although Alex does the majority of the driving), arriving to work breathless and frazzled(because once again I am LATE), and our fun new financial situation, our life has gotten really complicated. And when we are stressed, we tend to snipe at each other, hurting each others feelings, and there is usually some crying and pouting. Can't you see Alex pouting?

So, someone at work said, "You guys need a date night". A date night? But, that would involve spending money(which we don't have), and spending time together(so what happens to the pouting?). Well, I soon became determined to have a date night. I looked at the calendar, and decided on a date. It would be the first Friday in February, because that is when I get a paycheck, plus Alex had given me a gift card to P.F. Changs for Christmas, so I made reservations. I called my cousin Gaby to babysit.

And then I sprung it on Alex. "We are going on a DATE NIGHT.", I proclaimed. "What?" he exclaimed. (did you see my rhyme? I am sooo a poet.) And the excuses to not have a date night started. We don't have any money. We don't spend enough time with the kids. Can Gaby handle both kids by herself? What does the P. and the F. stand for anyway? I had a rebuttal for each excuse ready and waiting. I had the money thing covered. The kids would benefit from our time together. Of course, Gaby wouldn't be able to handle both kids, but that is how babysitters LEARN. Trial by fire, baby.

So, off we went. And it was lovely. The atmosphere at P.F. Changs was nice, and the food was ok, but it was so good to just sit there, just the two of us, and hold hands. We had a nice talk about how we can work together as a team, about handling our stress in a better manner, and about trusting God to take care of our family. Alex confessed that he feels burdened with the responsibility of keeping our family afloat, and I voiced my frustration with his seemingly inability to wash a single dish. We both promised to try harder, and to remember that we are working together on this, not against each other.

After, we went to Pathmark to buy cat food. So romantic.