Friday, September 26, 2008

Trying to catch up

I need a 30 hour day, please. If I only had a few more hours, maybe I could catch up with the tons of stuff I need to do.
It seems these days I am running around, from work to school to church, back to work... It's never ending.

I spent last week in Denver attending a training class. It was my first time in Denver, and that was exciting in itself. We had a chance to stay downtown, at the Curtis. If you've ever go to Denver, check that hotel out.
Every floor has a "theme", I stayed on the "Laugh outloud" floor. The decor were basically pictures of different comedians, like Lucy, Three Stooges, etc. Really cool. And the best part, it was just 2 blocks from 16th street, where all the shops and restaurants are.

The class was very good and relevant to my line of work. I'm guessing only a handful of people would classify a groundwater geochemistry class as "good". I'm one of those people. I was reminded of how much I really like chemistry. I'm an odd bird, I know.

Came home to find one of the boys sick. Fever, runny nose, congestion. I guess it's a summer cold, aggravated by allergies. Ended up missing work most of this week, because boy#2 also got sick. He is still home getting over his illness.

Aside from taking care of the boys, there was still dance class , and piano lessons, and soccer practices to go to. I wonder what it will be like when all three kids have after school activities? One of us will have a full time job taking everyone to their respective stuff.

Last but not least, there is church. I'm teaching Sunday school and I'm also involved in another program for adults, so that also has to be added to my schedule. And of course, there is still housework to be done.

So if anyone knows how I can add another 6 hrs to my day, please share the info. I need them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Candace!

I saw her for the first time seven years ago today. After waiting for almost 12 hrs, she finally made her entrance into this world at 5:12 PM. I was surprised to see how alert she was. She didn't cry, she just looked around at all the people welcoming her into this world.

Her big brown eyes made quite an impression on me. They weren't typical newborn eyes, with their sleepy look. They were bright, alert, scanning the room, inspecting everything. She didn't cry and I wondered if something was wrong, weren't newborns suppose to cry as soon as they were born? It wasn't until they started to clean her up and weigh her that she cried, only for a few seconds. She stopped as soon as she heard her father's voice.

She immediately took her place in our family, commanding attention when she wanted it, as all newborns did. She was fiercily independent from the start, wanting to do everything by herself. She was a lot of hard work, but always worth it.

I look at her in awe and amazement to see what an incredible human being she is. Her compassion surpases her young life, she always has a smile, a hug, ready when you need it the most. She is bright, intelligent, and well mannered, loving, all the qualities you want to see in a child. She loves to laugh, to have fun, to cuddle and watch movies, and Ben&Jerry's ice cream.

She is a tomboy and a girlie girl all wrapped up in one. She loves to go fishing with her grandparents, as much as she loves dresses, cute haircuts, and toenail polish.

She is a gift from above, and I will be forever thankful that she chose me to be her mother.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago

I'm pretty certain most people remember where they were, what they were doing, when the planes hit and the towers fell. I'm certainly one of them.

Even as I was watching one of those shows in the History channel, it all seemed so surreal, almost as if watching a movie with a horrible ending. If I hadn't been alive when it happened, I'd probably wonder if it truly happened.

I was 38 wks pregnant with my first child. I had preeclampsia and the doctor was going to induce so I was on my way to my last office appointment. My legs were twice their size and so were my hands, and I could no longer sleep because I could not get comfortable.

The fact I was bringing a child into this world was terrifying in itself. Millions of questions raced through my mind : What if I mess up? What if I don't know how to take care of a baby? Will I ever sleep for 8 uninterrupted hours?

We got the call from mother in law about the planes, so we knew something was happening by the time we arrived at the doctor's office. Perhaps we were too self absorbed, but none of that seemed important enough, we just wanted to make sure that kid was going to be ok and that I would be around to watch her grow up.

I sat the rest of the day on the couch, at home, watching the news unfold, and wondering what kind of world I was bringing this child into. And worrying about whether I had enough diapers, clothes, bottles and all other gadgets I thought I would need.

When people talk about the events of Sept 11 and get emotional about it, I feel bad because it was one of the happiest times of my life. The anticipation of finally meeting my first child, my little girl, the excitement of finally seeing her face overshadowed anything else that happened that day.

My heart aches for the families of those who lost their lives that day. But when I look in my daughter's eyes, I know there is goodness, hope, and love still in this world.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I just felt like running...

Remember Forrest Gump? I can relate to his quote right now.

I have the itch to run again. Not just run, but train for a half marathon. 13.1 miles.

I trained for the Chicago marathon in 2007 and it was a great experience. Even though the race was cancelled and I didn't get a chance to officially finish the race, it was still one of the best experiences of my life.

I learned a lot about myself while training for Chicago. I learn that age is just a number, that there are a million excuses I could have use to quit. I had 9 month old twins and a 5 yr old when I started training, a full time career, a husband. A million excuses. The amazing group of people who trained with me helped me get through it. They have no idea how much they helped me.

In my closet, there is a somewhat new pair of running shoes. My faithful Saucony Omni shoes, that got me through the streets of Chicago last October. Should I bring them out of retirement?

The 2nd MS Blues Marathon is coming up in January 2009. Last year, I was an spectator, happy to cheer for the runners, some of whom have become my friends. This year, I want to be one of the runners.

Training won't be easy, but the best things in life never are. I find myself missing those long runs from my training last year, when it was just me and the pavement. That section of my day when it's all about me, and what I can do, how far I can run.

Then there is my daughter, who will be 7 on Friday. She wants to run the Kids Marathon portion of the Blues. She has been asking when we are going to run together so she can start logging in her miles. There is no better incentive than to set the example for her.

So I may be running the Blues, and passing the torch to my daughter.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Working and parenting

If you have been watching the news lately, this has been a hot topic lately, because of Sarah Palin's nomination as VP for the GOP.

First, let me say this blog is not about politics. I don't agree with Palin's viewpoints, and this has nothing to do with her qualifications to be a potential VP.

I am, however, a working mother like her. I juggle a career and motherhood the same way she does. Since her nomination, I have heard (in several TV newscasts) reporters questioning whether she would be able to perform as a VP, not because of her experience but because she is a MOTHER.

As if the simple fact she has kids makes her less qualified to perform a job. Like I said, I'm not one of her fans and you won't hear me sing her praises or pledging my support. But I do think it's unfair to assume that because she is a mother, she is incapable of doing a good job, regardless of what that job may be.

As a working mother, I have had to endure my share of comments from people "oh, I'm so SORRY you have to work", or "you must have no time to do X, Y, Z with the kids".
Or they'll make comments about my kids being cared for by other people, or about me loving my career more than my children.

Most of the time, these comments are ignored because I know what's true, and because I don't feel these people deserve an explanation as to the reason for my choices.

Now that a working mother has been put in the spotlight, the same old question has come up again, can a woman have it all? Has anyone questioned whether a man can be a good father and also the President of this country? Does anyone ever question whether a man can have it all, a happy family and a good career?

Being a working mother is not easy, it is a juggling act. We struggle to be the best mothers, best wives, and still have a successful career. Our cars are overrun by toys, books, backpacks, and empty juice boxes. So are our houses. There are toys in the kitchen, and cups in the bedrooms. There are piles of laundry waiting to be done, and piles of clothes waiting to be folded. Most of the time, we hope people will call ahead before visiting so we can at least pick up some of the mess. There are crayon markings on our walls, and fingerprints on the windows, and probably cheerios under the cushions of the sofa.

Make no mistake, we are not lazy. Our houses are not a wreck because we can't handle a career and a home. They are a mess, at least mine is, because we CHOOSE to spend our free time with our kids. We rather snuggle under a blanket and watch Mary Poppins for the 1000th time than clean the house, or do the laundry. We rather go to soccer games, or dance practice, or listen to our kids practice their piano lessons, than stress over how our house may look if someone shows up.

What kind of mothers we are have nothing to do with what we do for a living. I have known mothers who stay home and spend no time with their kids (and will admit so). The kids are in front of the TV while they are preoccupied with keeping up with the Joneses. I have met other moms who make me want to stay home and imitate them. I have met working mothers who make it look easy, and who will be happy to give you the number to their cleaning ladies.

I don't believe my qualifications as an engineer depend on whether or not I have a family, the same way I don't think Sarah Palin's depend on her having one. We must stop putting working mothers down, or making them feel as if they don't love their kids enough. There are many of us who work because we have to and not because we want to. There are many of us who chose to work because we feel we can make a difference in this world, and want our kids to believe they, too, can have it all.Even if having it all means having a house in disarray.

I am proud of being a working mother. One day, my daughter will have to make her own decision, and my sons will be able to support their wives in their decisions, and I hope it will be because I set a good example. Whatever those decisions are, I hope they understand they too can have it all.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New habits, old habits, haircuts, DNC, RNC, Hanna, Ike...

So many things to blog about, so little time.

I was happily surprised to see the money I spend on private education is being put to good use. At least some of it. Part of my duties as the mother of a first grader include attending a mandatory meeting. This meeting is designed to tell us what our kids are going to learn, and how we can help them study at home. In the meeting, they mentioned the kids would be bringing home an "agenda" to keep up with their homework assignments, tests, etc.

First I thought I had misread the list of school supplies because I never bought an agenda. Then they told us they would provide one. I figured it would be a regular notebook, where they could write their assignments and we, the parents, could keep up with it.

She brought the agenda home yesterday for the first time. I started looking through and it looked vaguely familiar. Then I read the intro pages and the agenda is geared towards kids and based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

How cool is that? Yes, I'm showing my geek side by getting excited about something like this. But I think it's awesome she is learning to be organized at an early age, and even moreso, that she is being introduced to some great ideas at an early age.

On to the old habits part. I really need to quit drinking coffee. I quit before but I love my coffee. Or at least I need to make an effort to add more calcium into my diet. Osteoporosis runs in my family and I should really make a serious effort to exercise more and eat more calcium rich foods.

I'm getting a new haircut today. Not sure what yet, but I want to try something new and different. I picked up a magazine at Walmart and they have gazillion different short styles in one magazine. I decided not to buy it, otherwise I would probably never be able to pick just one. Whatever I pick, it will be better than the mop I'm sporting right now.

DNC, RNC... Have been watching both, listening to both sides spew venom about the other candidates. I WANT TO HEAR YOUR STAND ON THE ISSUES! Why is that so hard? I get that you have to badmouth the other guy because it's expected. But I'm more interested to hear YOUR stand on the issues that matter to me: the war, the economy, abortion, immigration, energy. Then I can draw my own conclusions about you and the other candidate.

It's a little insulting to hear over and over again the candidates tell me why I shouldn't pick the other guy. I want you to tell me why I should pick YOU over the guy. Americans are smart enough to make their own conclusions (at least I like to think so, but then, we have made some dumb decisions in the past when it comes to presidential elections). Present the facts about your plan and let us draw our own conclusions.

I'm looking forward to the first debate, not only because I want to see the candidates finally answer questions about the issues, but because it's at my beloved Ole Miss campus. But Tim Russert will be missed, I really like watching his show. I wonder who will be the moderator?

Then there is Hanna and Ike, headed somewhere. Will they come close to us, will people evacuate next time, will they stay put? I see all these "forecasters" trying to tell us where the hurricane is going. Please, you can't even tell me with precision whether it's going to rain tomorrow!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Resurrecting this old blog

It's been a while since I updated this blog. Lots has happened, mostly life so it's been hard to catch up.

We went to Panama in July and had a great time. This was our first, big vacation as a family of 5 so we had our challenges. Overall, it was a great experience. I learned that my kids are better behaved than I thought, and that my husband is more patient and understanding than I give him credit for.

Our family had a chance to spend time with the rest of the family, and that was great. My kids immediately embraced this new group of folks as if they had always known them. They enjoyed everything, the food, the places. We had meltdowns, as would be expected, but I think they were born to travel.

My husband had a chance to see where I grew up, my home, the place where I came to be. He says he liked it (did you, really?). But I wonder if it has made a difference for him to truly know where I came from and all the obstacles I had to overcome, and to meet the people closest to me, even after all these years?

It was great to see my family and spend time with them. I am ready to go back, this time Candace has requested an "only girls" trip. I really hope we can do that next time. It was great to show her where I grew up, and tell her about what my life was like when I was her age.

Came back to MS and to work and then life got hectic again. Trips to the ER because one fell off the couch and later busted his lip. Everyone is fine now.
Work was crazy busy during the month of August, I'm still trying to catch up.

Then school started. We are the parents of a first grader, and I feel like I'm the one in school. There is math homework, phonics homework, reading homework... Not to mention piano lessons, dance lessons, soccer lessons, and soon First Communion classes. My little girl is growing up way too fast, in 2 weeks she will be celebrating her 7th birthday!

Back in June, I took the seminar on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and now I'm trying to implement those. Turns out it was harder than I thought but I have discovered there are things I can do on a daily basis that will help me be a better mother and wife, not to mention a better person. Taking the time to think about what I can do every week to make a difference in one of those roles is really having an impact in my life. Still a work in progress though.

Then there is the world around me. Hurricanes and political conventions. We were better prepared for Gustav than we were for Katrina, a good thing considering we have 2 more kids than we did back then.
Political elections bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. I hope it brings out the best in me, although I have to admit I'm not perfect. I get easily annoyed by narrow minded people who believe their way and their beliefs are the only ones that are valid.
No two people are ever going to agree on anything, not even my twin boys who shared the womb.

So it gets very annoying when people share their political views and get highly offended because others don't see it the way they do, or because others don't agree with them.
I find it highly offensive for someone to assume I'm not intelligent enough to formulate my own opinion and expects me to adopt theirs.

I believe what I believe. Simple as that. My viewpoint is not the only one. I see the world the way I do because of my life experiences. I don't expect other people to see the world the same way if they haven't walked in my shoes. And no one has walked in my exact path, and even those who have walked a very similar path, have different views.

I like to debate about politics and religion but have discovered most people don't want to debate, they want to argue. They want to tell me my views are wrong and "convert" me. I really enjoy watching people get all worked up about their political views, and why their way is the best way for America.

I'm an outsider, an immigrant. Growing up, my country was under a socialist regime where healthcare is provided by the government, and education is at the top of the list. I find myself trying to dissect the messages both major political parties give and find the one that closely resembles my ideals. Neither do, there is no party that truly represents me, 100% of my convictions. There couldn't be; simply because I'm just one and the party represents the many.

Liberal, conservative. I'm not sure where I fall. I'm too liberal to be a conservative and too conservative to truly be a liberal. I vote on the ISSUES, not along party lines.