Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Things I Covet...


*Note: I'd meant to post this before Christmas, but then wrote the whole thing, only to lose it when there was an error during posting! However, there is still Valentine's Day, our anniversary and my birthday coming up. Hint, hint.


Here is a little video clip that is a pretty accurate reflection of my life during gift-giving occasions, (courtesy of my favorite TV show, Modern Family):

video

In case you were wondering, I am NOT the wife in this scenario. This clip portrays my life in the sense that for weeks (sometimes even months) before a gift-giving holiday, I start dropping hints about things that I want. Hard. Hints that sound like, "Hey, I really want that ________", so they are not subtle. Yet somehow, my husband seems to interpret "Hey, I really want that _____ " as "I don't actually want that _______ at all", because I never get what I am hinting for. Last year, I was presented with 3 gifts- 3 GIFTS! I was super excited at the idea of getting 3 gifts, until I opened them and saw.....a book that I already owned, a DVD that I already had, and a CD of French music. The CD is nice and I like it, but it isn't something that I really have to have. I did appreciate his effort and the fact that he THOUGHT about getting me gifts, but I'm going to confess that as I was thanking him, my mind was listing off all of the things that I'd been hinting about wanting for the past few weeks!

Oh, well.

I always give him a pass. This is due to the fact that he is an awesome father and husband, which is a much better gift than anything you will find on this list. He takes turns getting up in the morning with the kids on weekends and holidays, he gives up things that he likes to do in his free time to spend time with them, and he never, ever complains about doing his share of the parenting responsibilities. This is worth more to me than any bag or kitchen appliance.

Let’s just explore- for fun, of course- the things that I WOULD like to get just once, though, shall we? So, here it is: my list of Things That I Covet. Take a look, you may find something that you might want to add to your covet list, as well!


Thing I Covet #1: Pancake Griddle

This may seem like a strange thing to covet for some of you. However, I have been coveting one of these for years- years! Why, you may ask? For the simple reason that it would allow me to make a whole bunch of pancakes at the same time. I cook breakfast for my kids, and pancakes are high on the list of favorites. The pan that we have to make them in is big enough to cook either one big pancake, two smallish pancakes, or three quite small pancakes at a time.

This may not be a big deal to many of you, but I am a very impatient person, and so having to stand over the pan for 10-15 minutes in order to cook enough pancakes for everyone makes me crazy! Plus, the ones that you make first just don’t stay hot for too long- by the time the last ones are ready to go, the bottom of the stack pancakes are warm-ish. Butter doesn’t melt. It’s horrible, really! Well, OK, not horrible, but it could be better…

Don’t even get me started on all of the other things that I could make on my pancake griddle! Oh, no, they are not just for pancakes my friends. Grilled cheese sandwiches! Quesadillas! French Toast! ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I mean, really- need I say more?


Thing I Covet #2: Laptop Tote Bag

I try to be a stylish person. I don’t go over the top or anything, but I like to look nice and accessorize. I match my clothes with my jewelry and try to be colorful. So the reason why I carry around the laptop bag that I do completely escapes me. Seriously. I gave it to my husband about three years ago, and it is a great bag for a man. It is brown and orange, and it is a messenger bag, so you are supposed to wear it over one shoulder.

For the past few years, I wore a backpack to work. Then I decided that rockin’ the backpack I was not. I was really not. Reeeeeeeeeeeally not. No one can look stylish when wearing a backpack, I don’t care who you are. So this year I decided to ditch the backpack, but the problem was that I didn’t have another bag. My husband generously offered me his messenger laptop bag, since men apparently CAN rock the backpack and look stylish (why is that, exactly?). I was grateful, until I actually carried the bag around for a few weeks.

There are many problems with this bag, the first being its color. I like brown, and I like orange, but these are not colors that I wear often, nor are they colors that go well with lots of other colors. The result is that I usually clash. Badly. However, clashing is not a serious enough offense that I would ditch a bag. The real problems come with the design of the bag. I am not going to wear it over one shoulder, as that would: 1.) wrinkle my top, and 2.) cover, rub against, or break my necklaces. So that leaves me to carry the bag on one shoulder with the long strap. It is a hassle to get anything out of the bag if I am standing up and carrying it. There is no extra room for my wallet, snacks or anything really except for my laptop power cord. It is not a lady’s bag.

These things are all annoying, but were not quite enough to drive me to the point of ditching the bag. Until one day I was at the mall with my family and spotted a laptop TOTE BAG! It was pretty. It was colorful. It had two should straps and room inside for Lady Things. From that day on, I have coveted the laptop tote, as should you.

Thing I Covet #3: Cappuccino maker

I love coffee. I seriously love coffee. In fact, I luuuuuuuuuuurve coffee. But I ESPECIALLY love fancy coffee! Lattes, cappuccinos, au laits, you name it….sigh.

I have always dreamed of owning my very own cappuccino maker, allowing me the ability to sit around my house on weekend mornings, enjoying a latte that I didn’t have to leave the house to get. Or to have people over and be able to ask them, “Would you like a latte?” (fact: I have a friend who has a cappuccino maker, and everytime she makes one for me at her house, I am VERY impressed). I also dream of teaching my children to work the machine, thus ensuring a future filled with lattes and cappuccinos being brought to me IN BED in order to help me wake up in a better mood. I am not embarrassed to admit that I even included a plastic cappuccino maker in with the kitchen set that I gave them for Christmas, just so they can PRETEND to make me fancy coffee drinks.

However, there are a few reasons why I do not take the plunge and get one. First of all, they are ridiculously expensive. Yes, there are some cheap ones out there, but they are crap. Second of all, I fear that I may never leave my house, and there is the social aspect of going out for coffee and meeting friends to chat. I do enjoy that. Lastly, there is also the fear that I will become a complete and total coffee addict. I may love fancy coffee, but when I am paying several dollars per cup, I tend to keep my addiction at bay. I have no idea what sort of Pandora’s Box of caffeine highs owning my own machine would open up, but I suspect that it would not be pretty.

Thing I Covet #4: Fancy Diaper Bag

I am still in diaper-bag carrying mode. I still need to carry around diapers, wipes, crayons, snacks, and extra clothes with me everywhere I go (not to mention my ginormous wallet and my mobile). This is a fact that I must live with for the next few years. So, when I was pregnant with my second baby, I ordered a very stylish and very large new diaper bag. It’s black and nylon and tote-like and has lots of pockets and shiny, faux-leather trim. I loved it. That was a year and a half ago. Cut to the present day, and it is not looking so great---the faux-leather is cracked, the nylon is ripping apart and fraying (badly!), and the zipper is completely broken. My husband practically gags everytime he looks at it. It is no longer a stylish diaper bag, it is simply a functional diaper bag. Yes, I have gotten to the point where I am choosing function over fashion, when the hell did I arrive in THIS place?

I will have a nice, new diaper bag soon. The problem is that I am also a bit of a cheapskate, and stylish diaper bags are not cheap. So I always tell myself that my bag will go a bit more, but soon I will be at the point where I will pay almost any amount of money to never look at it again….as will my husband!


Thing I Covet #5: Laptop Desk

Who WOULDN’T covet one of these? No more balancing your laptop on your legs, burning yourself when your laptop gets a bit overheated because you want to be comfortable on the couch when you write instead of sitting at a desk or a table.

Enough said about this.


Thing I Covet #6: Kitchenaid mixer

Not only do I want one of these, but I want it in a fun color. Red, blue, lime green or orange, I’ll take any of them! I try to be a Domestic Goddess, but I usually fall a tad bit short. I truly, truly believe that if I had a Kitchenaid mixer, it would take my domestic goddess-ness to a whole new level. I am not sure why I think this, but I do know that whenever I see a Kitchenaid mixer in a store, I practically start drooling.

What is there not to love? It kneads dough! It mixes things without getting flour all over the damn place! It lets you have two hands free to get and add ingredients! It beats egg whites without straining your wrist or elbow! Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to beat an egg white long enough for it to actually turn into a stiff peak…It is also easy to clean, which is important because I’m pretty lazy.

Alas...

Well, that is my Covet List for now…though I was introduced to the idea of the ice cream maker by a friend of mine today. Further research may just ensure it’s added place to the Covet List, so be prepared for a Part II of this post!

What are some things that YOU covet? What can I add to my Wish List?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yep, This Is My Friday Night!



Today is Friday, which is a big day in our house to begin with. However, THIS Friday is also payday...that magical day when our cup runneth over (or so it seems, until we run out at the end of the month and scratch our heads, saying, "Where did our money go?". Turns out our money went out the window somewhere around payday. Whatever. Vicious cycle and all that.)

Source
For my husband, Bz, payday is special because for him, it means he goes and gets a massage. For the past three years, we lived in the Middle East, in a country where the cost of living was on par with (if not more than) that in the US. That meant that things like spa treatments and massages on a regular basis were out of our budget. Now that we are back in SE Asia, bi-monthly massages are back on Bz's agenda, and he always goes on payday.

Now, the reason why I mention Bz's massage addiction is because whenever he goes to indulge, I am left on my own for two hours. So tonight I will share with you the goings-on in the Expat Mom household while Bz is de-stressing. Hold on to your hats! Well, don't...not really. Because it isn't very exciting. Unless you like cooking and exercise. Then maybe you'll think so. But I doubt it.

My first instinct was to immediately uncork the wine bottle, lie on the couch and not get up for at least 4 hours. However, I'd had a late-afternoon latte at work in order to make it until the end of the day, and it's effects were still in full swing, so sitting still in one place just wasn't an option yet at this point in the evening. Anyway. I have already mentioned my quasi-obsession with Jessica Seinfeld. So tonight for some inexplicable reason (that was not at all stalker-ish. Really.), I ended up on YouTube searching her name, hoping to find some cooking video that did not contain meat or fish that I could try this week.

I hit pay dirt when I came across this clip of her on Regis and Kelly, demonstrating how to make creamed spinach that (apparently) is not completely disgusting. I am a little dubious of this, as I have never liked creamed spinach. However, I am desperate for my family to eat more green side dishes that aren't frozen, so I am bound and determined to make this dish this week to accompany one of our dinners. Do I think it will be good? Maybe. Do I think my kids will actually eat it? Not so much. However, I am their mom and it is therefore my job to provide them with healthy meals, such as creamed spinach, even if they pretend to gag when they see them. Or so I am told. I will let you know how that one plays out.

***Note: After a trip to the grocery store, I am sad to announce that the creamed spinach will NOT be made this week due to my inability to find spinach. Boo, Ranch Market, Boo!****




Alas, if one is going to spend one's time perusing cooking sites and eating like they are going into hibernation, then one must also exercise from time to time (again, so I am told). After I finished making my grocery list, I looked at the clock and saw that I still had another hour until Bz returned home. What to do, what to do?? Hmmm...I have less than a month before we will be on Winter Break and spending 10 days at the beach with our good friends who are coming to visit us from Doha. My desire to not spend the full 10 days in the only one-piece bathing suit that I own, coupled with my fear that my dear Doha Friend will secretly judge me for not having lost my post-baby pooch, well over a year past giving birth (you just can't help noticing that stuff, can you?) led me to open up my practically-new post-pregnancy workout DVD by Tracy Anderson. If you don't know Tracy Anderson, then you need to get acquainted with her workouts ASAP. They hurt like hell, but they hurt because they love.

I did the abs and arms portion of her post-pregnancy DVD, then decided to give her mat workout DVD a glance through. I did about 2 minutes of her standing abs routine, and about 3 minutes of her arms routine. OH. MY. FREAKING. GOD. That was the thought that was going through my head the entire time I was doing the moves. I knew that I would be sore this morning, but I had no idea how sore! I could barely sit up in bed. I knew, however, that I was sore because I'd been working muscles that probably haven't moved in over a decade. I will definitely be doing these DVDs again, but I'll have to wait until I can stand completely upright and move my arms again first...most likely in about 3-5 days. Seriously.



After I'd finished the mental makeover of my family's meal rotation and damn near killing myself with exercise (see? I just should never be left alone!), the door opened and in walked Bz, fresh and relaxed from his evening of pampering. At least one of us knows how to have fun on a Friday night...

How did you spend YOUR Friday evening? Was it as awesome as mine? Hard to beat, I know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who's A Picky Eater?


It was a similar scene to the night before:

"Kaia, you need to eat."

"I am."

"No, take bigger bites. And stop using your hands."

15 minutes later...

"Mama, can I be done?"

"No, you still haven't eaten anything."

"I don't like it."

This is what 80% of our mealtimes are like....lucky us! In the interest of not eating the same 6 meals every single week (We usually eat out or order pizza once a week), I have been trying to branch out from the steady favorites (which are not even really favorites...every week we eat soy burgers, and every week Kaia does not eat them!) and into a few new recipes at a time. So far, the results have been mixed. I made pasta with a butter sage sauce and was convinced that she wouldn't have anything to do with it. Guess what? She loved it! Then I made spaghetti with fresh basil, tomatoes and ricotta cheese. I thought that it was delicious, but Kaia wouldn't touch it. Skye wouldn't touch it (which is saying something, because she eats just about anything). With a 50% success rate (Jabiz and I loved it), I wouldn't say that it was a hit.


That night, Kaia and I were snuggling in bed together, watching some cooking videos (I'll throw in a shout-out here to Jessica Seinfeld. Yep, she's Jerry Seinfeld's wife, and I have been a fan of hers since her  first cookbook came out. She now has a cooking website called doitdelicious.com that has videos of her making various dishes. I am obsessed with it, even though most of the recipes involve cooking meat or fish. I am obsessed with anyone who cooks well and makes it look easy. Her new book is out and I am coveting it, in case anyone wants to get me a Christmas present. Hint hint. No, seriously.) We started talking about cooking. I told her that it is very important to know how to cook, and that someday when she's older, we will take a cooking class together (I will also throw in here that my mother DID take me to cooking lessons when I was young, but I obviously wasn't the most gifted student in the class. Hence my need for more cooking lessons as an adult. Hopefully, Kaia will be a better student than I was.)

She looked up at me with a very concerned expression on her face and said, "Can we not cook anything that has that pesto stuff or tomatoes in it?"

I was confused, "But you love pesto!"

"No, mama- not pesto, but that stuff in pesto."

"You mean basil?"

"Yes, basil. No basil in our cooking. Or tomatoes."

"Why not?"

"Because it's gross."

"Oh. So you thought that my spaghetti was gross?"

"Yes."

Sigh.

So the search continues for some new, meat-free recipes that my kids will like. Being a vegetarian takes away popular meal options for kids, such as chicken fingers or fish sticks. I'll post any successes, as well as failures.

In the meantime, does anyone have any recipes or ideas that my picky eater might like?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Learning A Lesson From...Lessons!

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Like most parents, I want my kids to be well-rounded individuals, and in my mind, that includes signing them up for lessons. I have no idea why I think that if a 4-year-old doesn't have interests or hobbies, she will grow up to be a talentless, disinterested member of society, but I do. Where did that idea come from? Maybe I've read too many parenting magazines, maybe I've spent too much time in Asia (where parents have a tendency to over-schedule their kids to exhausting degrees), maybe I've sat through too many Variety Shows that involve children expertly playing instruments or performing impressive dance numbers...who knows?

Whatever the reason, on the sign-up day for the after school activities, I was there with Kaia, hungry to put her name on as many lists as I could! Disappointingly (or so I thought), there were very few options for the pre-K set, but there was a swimming option. I asked Kaia if she wanted to take swimming lessons, and she said yes. I ignored the fact that she was saying yes to anything I asked her, as she was as caught up in the excitement of it all as I was. Swimming it was! She was passionate about swimming! She'd be a great swimmer and compete in meets and be one of those "cool" athletes! I admit, the fact that I am not exactly "athletic" (at least not in the traditional sense) fed into my desire to cultivate a child who is not awkward and clumsy when it comes to all things sporty.  Regardless, my kid was going to be a swimmer. We signed her up, even though it was one of the few programs that required a substantial payment.


Of course, as luck has it, Kaia's class started swimming in P.E. the week after her Monday lessons began. They swim on Mondays, which means that Kaia is now swimming twice in the same day.  I have to pack TWO sets of swim gear and TWO towels into her swim bag. Her swim class lasts from 3:00-4:00, which means that I have to run over and pick her up at 2:45 when school ends, race her over to the changing rooms and get her into all of her swim gear in order to get her to the pool in time, on the same day that the MS has its after-school staff meetings. The swimming class is now becoming the bane of my existence, and it will go on for the next month.

Yesterday was Monday, and I saw some gray clouds in the sky towards the end of the day. Immediately, I perked up with the hope that Kaia's swim class would be canceled. I wouldn't have to rush, wouldn't have to be late for the staff meeting, and wouldn't have to deal with two sets of wet suits and towels when we got home. Then, I immediately felt guilty. Was I really putting my own comfort and convenience before the good of my child? I felt like Bad Mommy.

So there I was, standing in the Commons Area of the 6th grade floor, vacillating between wanting the swim class to be canceled and just dealing with it, when my friend walked over and asked me what I was doing. Feeling like an idiot, I told her my dilemma. I was afraid that she would judge me for slacking on the mommy job, but she just looked at me with an amused expression on her face. She is a veteran mom with grown kids, and she said, "You're new to this motherhood thing. You still think that 4-year-olds have to have scheduled activities in order to grow into interesting people. Trust me, you will soon figure out that that is a myth. Your kids will have enough activities when they are older. What do YOU want to do right now?".

Wait- what do I want to do? I didn't realize that was an option! What did I want at that time? I wanted to not have to rush late into my important meeting about assessment, or have to sit through the meeting worrying that the rain would start and swim class would end early and I'd have to try and leave the meeting to go and get Kaia from the pool. Or worse, having to worry about the class ending early and Kaia freaking out all alone because I wasn't there to help her right away like I usually am at the end of class.

So what did I do? I explained the situation to Kaia, and instead of going to swim class, she stayed in my class room and colored while our meeting went on. Was she upset to miss the class? Not in the least. Is she scarred for life? Not any more than she was before the missed class. Is she no longer going to grow up to be an athlete? Who knows. All I know is that we had a chill, (somewhat) relaxing afternoon that didn't consist of anyone yelling to hurry up, complaining about being late, or crying because they were alone in the changing room, wet and cold. And next week if our meeting is less critical and it is a sunny afternoon, she will go back to class and we'll be back on track to forming an Olympic athlete...or maybe not!

What are your thoughts on scheduled activities for 4-year-olds? Necessary or not so much?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome!


I've been meaning to start this blog for a long time, but life always seems to get in the way. In the past few months, we have moved our family from Doha, Qatar, to Jakarta, Indonesia. I started off my new life here as a stay-at-home mom, but many factors (among them being the desire to get out into the grown-up world and interact with with people whose communication skills consist of more than pointing, as well as the luxury of being able to buy more than the bare necessities on the grocery list while still maintaining something resembling a bank account!) have led me to take a part-time teaching job at the school which brought us here for my husband's job in the first place.

So, once again, I am walking the line between work and motherhood. Fortunately, we live in a country where I am lucky enough to have a full-time nanny who comes to our house and spends everyday taking care of my youngest daughter, Skye. And our nanny is fantastic! However, there are days when I am glad to leave the house for work in the morning, but there are days when I wonder if it's worth it.

These are the kinds of musings, rants and complaints that I will be writing about on this blog. If you are someone who already knows me, then it's great to see you here! If you are someone new, then please leave comments so that we can meet!

Welcome!