Monday, April 18, 2011

Time For Me to Fly

     I am so excited to be flying home to the states next Friday.   I am so excited to be able to have a little bit of home and to see some of my old friends and my family.   I am so excited to be able to buy bananas for less than $12/ kilo or to buy shoes without  blowing my budget for the month.
     I am worried about flying home to the states next Friday.  I am worried that it won't be the experience as I remember or want it to be.  I'm worried that I will, gasp, miss Australia and the life I have carved out for myself here.  I'm worried that my short NYC visit will just be huge hassle as I have no idea how to navigate the city with a toddler.
    I am a person in limbo - not quite indoctrinated to oz just yet, but no longer of the place where I was born.  The talk about the economy and the upcoming election makes me worry that the US is once again headed in a dark direction that I don't want to go.  I like living in a country that takes care of it's citizens, (even though sometimes I feel like it's 1995 and I wish it was 2011 like the rest of the world).  It's nice.  I don't feel like a have not.  I feel quite happily middle class.  We still worry about money, sure, but we don't worry that if one of us gets hurt we will lose the house.
     The food here is expensive, but it's good food - not loads of crap processed foods in the grocery store.  The clothes here, well, not so good.  I've been saving my money to recharge my wardrobe while I'm home.  I even long for an Old Navy or Target, (as well as hoping to score some fabulous clothes at the outlets).  I long for an H&M.  An H&M!  Sigh.  I used to love to shop.  Now, I just turn away and go shopping in my closet.  Not for long :)

Things that  like this month about Australia:

 - It's Autumn and some of the trees here in Melbourne do change colors and the leaves are all over the sidewalks.  I love the smell of the leaves in fall.
 - Warm days and cool nights.
 - The sun is not as searing during the day
  - I found a hair product that may actually work on my hair.  (It has not adjusted very well to this hemisphere).
 - Hot cross buns at Sourdough Kitchen - Yum!!!!
 - Nora is almost 2!
 - Easter chocolate - although I have been trying to be SO good this year since I have finally been losing the baby weight and am almost back in my old jeans.
 - Ice skating at the Icehouse (in the Docklands) in a rink that is like the disco roller rinks of my youth - awesome!
 - the Botanical Gardens
 - I have been driving (yes, on the other side of the road) and my parallel parking skills are still sharp as a pin :)  Now to venture beyond Yarraville and surrounds.........
 -  School holidays, even with the skids, because it is a nice break from my same old routine.
 - 3 playgrounds within a 10 minute walk or (or less) of our house?  Actually this is a year round thing, but it's awesome if you have a 2 year old who can run and run and run and run..............
 - All of the kids form my mother's group will be celebrating birthdays, even though I will miss the first rounds, (which reminds me, I have some nifty gifts to get ready)
 -   I am moving forward with  my small business idea. Still don't know how it will all turn out but I'll have a logo for it this week.  And maybe a FB page in the next couple of months.  When I get back from the states I will be doing a lot of sewing........... for better or worse.

    So, 24 hours of travel with a 2 year old.  Wish me luck.  And an extra set of washable crayons.............

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Summer That Wasn't

    Today is the last day of summer.  It's cloudy, it's been rainy, and I'm not expecting the temperature to break 70 degrees (about 22 C for my down under friends).  Seasons in Australia are very organized. No hanging around for the solstice here. Tomorrow, March 1, is the first day of Autumn.  This will last until the first day of June, at which time it becomes winter.
    I love Autumn, so in theory, I should be happy.  Unfortunately, last year we had the winter that went on forever.  Spring was almost non existent.  So by the time summer rolled around, I was actually looking forward to having a string of warm sunny days (but not too hot, when it really heats up here it can get a bit unbearable and I still don't have access to the car more than a couple of days a week).   Nope.  Didn't happen, or at least, it didn't happen in the amount needed to feel like we were actually having summer.
     We received 300 mls of rain this summer in Melbourne. 30 cm, 12 inches of rain over 3 months.  Thats more than twice the average rainfall and don't forget, we've had a drought for the last decade.  Rain doesn't fall here the way it does up north, or in the northeastern part of the US.  Most of the time, rainstorms here are not drenching downpours.  It just kind of rains light to medium for a bit.  It is rare that someone here has a raincoat, or carries an umbrella.  I've actually gotten into that habit as well.
    So it rained.  Sometimes light, sometimes heavy.  I'm sure you all know about the floods that have hot several states and crippled small towns and major cities.  Some summer, huh?
    The sun is still strong, even though it has not been out as often.  I finally bought a huge bottle of sunscreen, (the kind with a pump) and it's in the bathroom, right next to the shower so that instead of lotion, you end up applying a layer of SPF 30+.  You can get a sunburn in 11 minutes here on a strong sunny day.  My 21 month old daughter has already learned to apply and I often just give her the roll on sunscreen when she's in the pram.  A little extra coverage on top of the layer I've given her can't hurt, can it?  It doesn't help that she now HATES the sunshade and screams when I try to put it over her head.   Wear a hat?  Well, that depends on her mood. Sunglasses?  Only if she feels like a movie star.  Let's just say I know where all the big shady sidewalk trees are in my neighborhood.  I have even made a "cap" for the pram that will shade most of her head and face and that sits out of her line of sight (although, if she turns around to look at me and sees it she screams and pushes it back).  It's not forever, I think, as she screams, throws the sunglasses and complains "eyes. eyes!" because the sun it too strong.

     Speaking of prams, can I just say how amazing my stroller is?  This is not a product pitch, per se, but sometimes you luck into a product from a company that knows how to treat their customers well.  We have a Bugaboo bee -  a funky little pram meant for urban areas. It fits just about everywhere, turns on a dime, etc.  It would not be so good for NYC subways because you can't fold it easily on public transport but in Melbourne, I don't worry about crowded subways so much.  So, we bought this pram on Valentine's Day 2009 because the shop we went to was having a mega sale and we got the baby cocoon for free that day etc.  On February 18, 2011, 4 days after the warranty expired, the mechanism that controls the sunshade pivot got stuck and I snapped one of the sunshade supports while I was trying to force the cover over my (finally) sleeping daughter as we walked along.  So, we took it back to the shop, they e-mailed Bugaboo and 3 days later they called me and said "Your new seat is in, come pick it up".  Yes, this one stupid sunshade mechanism was attached to the entire seat and not easily replaceable, so they just sent us an entirely new seat, after the warranty had expired, at no charge.
So, if you are pregnant and looking, I recommend a Bugaboo.  Expensive?  Yes, a bit, although certainly competitive with other prams.  Worth it?  I sure think so.  

     So, in my effort to avoid a 9 month winter this year I am heading back to the states with Nora for the month of May (Hooray!).  My mom has been missing out on being a grandmother so she is about to get a mega dose of 2 year old.  Nora and I will be flying to NYC on April 29, and then traveling upstate a few days later.  (Yes, we will miss the Royal Wedding, although I'm sure we will be able to watch it all online once we have internet access again. )   My parents will also be able to spend Nora's second birthday with her, which, although it will be away from Nora's Australian family and friends, will be full of her American family and as I have learned, it's hard to be be two places, 10,000 miles away at once. You have to pick and choose and take the opportunities when you can.  My husband is lamenting us being away for this time period but he knows that the airfares were the lowest all year and that it is my family's turn.  It won't be every year, but Nora is a Yank too (she's a dual citizen) and it's about time she got a taste of the good ol' U S of A.  As for me?  I am so looking forward to being home, words cannot describe my emotions  It's been too long.
     The best part about being home?  We get an extra month of warm weather this year, woo hoo!

   Sorry, my life has not been so exciting lately.  It's been a tough summer in terms of life, budgets, kids, etc.  My daughter is amazing but I haven't been working at anything more than a job that pays for coffee in a long time so Aldi and sales have become my new best friends.  We are learning to live with less and I am rewinding my head to a time in my life when I didn't have so much myself (but I did have a mortgage and health insurance payments).  So, I'm back to the days when $40 in my pocket for the week seems like a lot of money.  It's ok.  It's not forever.  And I would rather be with Nora than work to keep her in daycare.  I'm lucky that we have a choice when so many families don't.  It just means that I do a lot more online fantasy shopping.  Nora starts school in 2015, so I've got 4 years to position myself to reenter the job market.  I've signed up for the first of many classes in textile design at RMIT, (they moved me to an August session so it starts a bit later but I've got time to spare).  The money I do spend is mostly to buy shoes for Nora, (her feet just keep growing!  At Christmas she was a size 4, now she is a size 6!) and she needs a warm coat/ hoodie that fits her.  I can make a lot of her clothes, so shoes and coats become the major expense.  It's a path many families have followed before.

So, that's the summer that was.  Not so warm, a bit frugal, with a lot of rain. But it hasn't been all bad.  The rain has been good for the flowers and life is beautiful.

Friday, December 17, 2010

7 more sleeps until Christmas

     So, the Christmas season is in full swing.  I'm still not used to a warm Christmas. I know, it's freezing back home, people would trade ice and snow for sandals and sun.  Fine, let's trade.  I walked by a fresh Christmas tree display today and I leaned in, hoping to get a good sensory kick start from the smell of the evergreen and.......... nothing.  I could smell the food from the restaurant next door, but the tree didn't smell at all.   I kind of felt like the kid from the Polar Express who couldn't hear the jingle bell.  

      The house is mostly decorated, the presents mostly wrapped.  There is baking to be done, and carols to sing tomorrow evening.  I have spent the last 3 weeks doing holiday activities with my kids at the cafe and have a mind to attempt mini ginger bread houses on Tuesday. 

 Last night was Greg's work party and Nora had a rare babysitter watching over here while we had some adult time away.   The side effect of our adult night out was a very unsettled little girl today.  She spent most of the day within arms reach of me and most preferably on my lap.  She's much better and finally asleep this evening, but I'm hoping she grows out of this because I would like to be able to go on more dates alone with my husband in the coming year.  
    I was eating lunch with Nora settled into my lap, sandwich in one hand, the paper spread out on the table.  The weather was typical Melbourne 4 seasons in one day: one minute sunny, one minute cloudy, one minute rainy, etc.  You get used to this country after a while, (I still hate getting caught in the rain) but there are some things you just don't get used to.  I found myself in tears, holding onto my daughter, thankful to be where I am and who I am.  

     Yesterday's news, today's sorrow.  I'm sure that in the states it's just another news blip, but there was a boat full of refugees that got caught in some horrible weather off of Christmas Island.  Caught in the weather and caught on the absolute wrong side of the island, 4 meter swells, razor sharp cliffs.  30 people dead, 44 saved, estimates of there having been more than a hundred passengers.  The boat was full of refugees from Iran and Iraq.  People who had paid a life's worth of savings to get a flight to Indonesia, and then to pay for passage across the water with no guarantee that Australia would even let them in.  These people started their journey trying to find a better life and ended it clinging to the wreckage of a flimsy wooden boat.  The residents of the island were throwing life jackets and floats, but otherwise they were powerless.  It was a case of the sea being so dangerous that to attempt a rescue from land would mean certain death for the rescuer and the refugee.  They saw young children, "babies" (3/4 years old),  holding onto the wreckage, screaming, and there was nothing they could do.  The Navy finally got a boat out to try picking up the people who weren't being smashed against the rocks.
The irony is that there is a huge debate going on here about these refugee boats and Christmas Island is an offshore detention/ processing center for the "boat " people that have been arriving on almost a daily basis in Australian waters.  So many people trying to find a better life away from war and poverty.  
There is talk of a refugee center being established in Indonesia so that Australia can process these people before they take pay through the nose for unsafe passage to our shores.  One side blames the other for the increase in boats.  Some Australians don't want these people; they don't want any more foreigners changing the country that they know.  There is already blame being cast as to why they didn't see the boat on radar farther out (all of the reports say that it wasn't picked up and was sighted off the coast at 5am in the morning - too close to prevent the tragedy).  

  So, I held onto Nora, and I fretted over those children lost to the sea.  The children who will never proudly wear a sun hat and uniform to their first day of prep, the children who will never apply sunscreen as if their life depended on it.  Children who will never swing in the park and sit on their mom's lap in a cafe enjoying an espresso cup full of foamed milk designed to indoctrinate them into the coffee culture.  Never watch Australian Play School on ABC. Never kick a footy.  Never dance to the Wiggles or see Santa arriving on a fire truck. Children who will never have that "something better" that their parents desperately wanted for them.

    It was so easy for me, in comparison, to move here.  So easy for them to accept me, so easy for me to blend into this culture. It's heartbreaking to think about how difficult it is for so many people.  There but for the grace of God go I.  The Australia that I know well is a melting pot and I know that not everyone wants to keep these people away.  But it is so hard for these refugees.  It's heartbreaking.

   I didn't have much Christmas spirit this season to begin with.  But I'll be glad when the festive season is over and I can settle back into normal life.   My sweet, wonderful, privileged, normal life.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Mommy Bloggers

     Spoiler alert........ I don't think I will be using this blog to pass judgement on the state of child rearing in the western world.  Nor will I be using it to put my own child rearing skills on a pedestal or to criticize what I see other mothers doing in the park.  Now that I'm out of the haze of Nora's first year, I think I'll get back to what I meant this blog to be: postcards from the edge of the world.

     I will, however, sometimes write about my experiences as a mother in order to show the contrast between where I came from and what's happening here.  I can condense these first 18 months into a bullet list for you:

- 4 nights in hospital after a natural birth with non drugs, (4 nights! And this is standard for a private hospital.  The public system would have given me two nights but I wouldn't have paid a cent for those 2 nights)

 - Midwife care in the hospital 24 hours a day.  Daily visits from the ob gyn.

 - A home visit from the maternal child health nurse, (the MCH) during my first week at home

 - fortnightly appointments until Nora was 8 weeks, then monthly until 6 months, next was at a year and all vaccinations were given by the MCH free (we had to go to our GP for one set because of our travel schedule but we only paid for the visit, vaccinations were billed to medicare).  Her next visit is next week at 18 months and that will be her last set of vaccinations until she's 4.

 - The Australian government pays you once all of the vaccinations are complete (!)

 - The Australian Government gives a $5000 baby bonus paid fortnightly until it runs out

 - I missed this one, but the government just instituted paid maternity leave for working mothers

 - The government pays you money if you don't meet a certain income threshold, making it easier for a single income family to have one parent staying at home.  It's not a lot, but it helps.

- There is a lot of support for breast feeding moms and The Australian Breastfeeding Association has monthly get togethers and a free help line, both of which I made use of.  It's also another great place to connect with other moms. I could write tons more about this but I promised myself that this would be bullet points, not a mommy blog.

 - At 3 months, The MCH organized a formal mother's group for the moms in her care who had babies roughly Nora's age.  There were about 9 of us in the beginning.  The MCH ran the group for 6 weeks and then we were on our own.  15 months later and dozens of house visits, cafe sits, birthday parties and the like, 7 of us are meeting up in the park tomorrow so we can catch up with one of the girls who had to go back to work.  One of us has already had baby #2.  This group has been amazing.

 - at the first signs of post natal depression, I was referred to a special group run by the council for moms having difficulties. Medicare paid for doctor's visits and follow ups.

 - Day care in the inner west is scarce, but we were able to get Nora into the Bulldogs Center for one day a week: $70/ day includes meals and care from 7:30am - 6:30pm (but most days she is only there 8 hours).  This center is subsidized by the Western Bulldogs football team.  The staff is amazing and Nora loves it.

 - The inner west is full of mom friendly businesses and cafes.  It's also full of creative people who happen to be moms.  I started coordinating the children's activities at a local cafe where I was a patron and the ladies there have become some of my closest friends.  Having this small job to go to for a few hours a week, being able to bring Nora with me, I think it saved my life at one point.

      Universal health care has been great and all of the services available to new moms and to primary school aged children are amazing.  I'm not sure what it would have been like to be back in the US.  Some things worse, some better, I'm sure.  I try not to compare, but I do think in some cases if women in the US knew what was available here they would riot in the streets.  

   Having a baby is tough enough under the best circumstances.  It's been hard being here and having all of my family and friends 10,000 miles away.  Skype and e-mail is good, but it's just not the same.  I wish I could have enjoyed Nora's first months as much as I enjoy her now.  It's been amazing to have this time with her.  I'm still figuring out how to get back to real work, but thanks to my husband, we're not in a rush and I still have some time to figure things out.

 And through it all, one of the main things I realized was this:  I do have family here.  I have my daughter.  She's amazing and I get to see her every day.  Who would have thought it?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Inner West

     Did I ever tell you how much I like my neighborhood?  I love my neighborhood!  I do not, however, recommend moving somewhere when you are 8 months pregnant.  I also do not recommend taking the first decent house in desperation to get out of the unfriendly suburb where you are living.

   Yarraville is located to the west of the Melbourne CBD, near the West Gate bridge and south of Footscray.  It's a hop, skip and a jump to the lovely beach front suburb of Williamstown and best of all the neighbors actually talk to each other!
   So, I've only lived here now for a year and half (and during that time had another move to Kingsville, the mini suburb right next to Yarraville which is walking distance to the shops in Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray, which my mom refers to as "Footscary") but it feels more like home, (Brooklyn NY home, I mean), than anywhere else I've visited in my three years here.
    It's got a cool 5th avenue before the economic crisis in Brooklyn feel and it's very mom friendly.  When you don't have access to a car during the day yo can still shop and get a decent, (ok, more than decent) cup of coffee.
    And the playgrounds rock!
     But what I love the most are the remnants of what this area used to be.  The hidden houses in Seddon that date back to the 1860's, the grand dame mansions on Somerville road that now bear witness to thousands of trucks ferrying goods and containers back and forth from business to docks.  The hidden details, the sudden view of things past when you turn a corner, the hidden deco gems, the gardens, the echoes of a once proud area trying to shake off the deisel exhaust.  More on that below.........

     I think that Melbourne needs a lesson in town planning.  Who let them destroy this place?  No one who came from here, that's for sure.  The person who said "go west trucks, and prosper", probably went home to his lovely house in the shady eastern suburbs.
     The good news is that they are going to build a tunnel farther north to get most of the trucks out of the residential areas. But that's still 10 years away. really, the only drawback of this wonderful place is that it is the shortest route between two points and the busy roads are BUSY.  I lived in NYC for 16 years.  I'm used to the traffic. But I really think that this city needs to do more to protect what little is left of this place.
    Hmmm, maybe a degree in town planning is in my blood.  But, they would HATE me and my big mouth.  No one wants to be told that what they think works just fine for everyone not living in Yarraville is wrong for the people who do live here.  At least, not in my accent.

   I'll hopefully post a photo essay soon of all the things I love.  Once I figure out how to post photos......



Monday, September 27, 2010

Kickboxing is cathartic........

     I've been doing a lot of fake shopping lately.  The internet is so good for this kind of thing.  I go online, pick out what I want, fill my cart, then shut my computer and walk away.  It's not as good as real shopping, but it's much cheaper.  It's spring here now, but since it's almost October I feel like I should be buying fall clothes.  I imagine what size Nora will be next winter and I start browsing.  Some places will even ship to Australia now but mostly it's just for fun.  I did the same thing when I got married.  I had a registry with Liberty of London; I picked out every imaginable item I needed for my ultimate Liberty home and put it on the registry.  Alas, no purple boxes arrived at my door.  The wedding registry manager finally contacted me and I admitted the truth.  It was my fantasy registry, I told him.  Just a fantasy.

  I met up with a few ex pat moms last Friday morning at a  beach playground in Albert Park.  We were optimistic about the weather, but spring has taken a long time to get here this year and we were a bit windblown.  It was lovely to finally be able to complain about things without offending someone!  Aussies can get so touchy.  We just miss things like cheap books and children's shoes that cost less a day's pay.
I made Toll House cookie bars from my secret stash.  Someone else made Rice Krispie treats using marshmallows she brought over from the US.  We shocked a few Aussie parents with our vehement agreement that Australian Target is just not as good as American Target.  It was a good morning.

    Nora walks everywhere now. I had to get her some sturdy shoes so that she could walk outside easily without me worrying too much about her stepping on something.  It's a good thing she's very bouncy.  Her legs bruise easily, (like mine do) and they are covered in the souvenirs of her toddling adventures.
She loves to draw and she loves to sing.  The other night in the bath she sang about a thousand verses of "The wheels on the bus" which I can only differentiate because how she says "round and round" and how she says "beep, beep, beep" sound very different.  My husband let this go on and on because he takes his computer into the bathroom so he can catch up on the news while she plays, (and turns into a prune).  On Saturday she hid the bath plug in my closet.  I looked everywhere else but there, which sent my husband on a wild goose chase for a 40mm bath plug at 7:30pm on a Saturday.  Did I mention that the ex pat moms also complained about everything here closing early on the weekends?  I found the plug Sunday morning.  Opened the closet and there it was.

     So, I've moved on from Pilates to Kickboxing.  I'm slowly getting fit enough to climb the monkey bars with my step kids, (which I did yesterday) but I don't think could do swing outs for 5 hours straight the way I used to.  It's a slow road back, for sure.  It feels really good to hit things. Very cathartic.
I'm having good days and still some bad days but it does feel good to get some real exercise.  Nora watches me and I have no idea what she's thinking as I punch away.  She doesn't even know that I miss my old life sometimes and that sometimes Oz can really get me worked up.
It's tough being an ex pat.
     On the other hand, I'm sure glad that I'm not on the co-op board in Brooklyn anymore after that tornado swept through Park Slope last week.  What a mess, and so sad to see all of those trees knocked down.  Everything must change, eventually.  Nothing is forever.  Still, it's sad when a place that meant so much to me is transformed forever into something I won't recognize.
Ah, now, there's no crying in baseball Jennifer.  Time for dinner.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Much Needed Lament.........

     I realize that I have neglected this blog in the same way I have neglected other things over the past year.  It's hard to find space to come up for air when you have an infant.  It's hard to even remember what you used to do in your other life.   It's wonderful, having Nora, but I have been battling my own demons this past year.
    It's the typical things that most women go through after having a baby:  the figure I once had and the clothes that once fit me are a bit of a distant memory.  It took me a while, (and weekly Pilates sessions) to even get my core strength back.  It's nice to have that, at least, even if my old jeans are still packed in a box.  I ended up giving away some beautiful clothes from my "skinny mini" period because I decided I would rather have things that fit me than lament over the days when I barely registered 130 pounds on the scale.
And my vintage collection, packed away in storage back in the states, is no longer wearable - it's  inspiration only at this point (except for the hats, and the shoes, but without the beautiful suits and dresses, they stay packed away.)
   I look at pictures of myself and I cringe:  I see the bags under my eyes from sleepless nights, My hair, which fell out in clumps about 3 months after Nora came, (right on cue according to all of the literature) is almost back to normal, (but, since I cut a lot of it off, I feel funny with the length and the style - I miss my long hair.  It was just too depressing to lose the hair and the length of it made it seem more extreme).  My boobs are huge, (but I'm determined not to wean Nora until she is one year) and I'm dying to wear a real bra again someday.  My waistline?  Ha! I used to be the epitome of wasp waisted.  I never had a muffin top until now.  That, amazingly, doesn't bother me so much.  But what does is seeing my small wrists and thin hands, my always narrow long neck and small head on a body I don't recognize.  I used to be sample sized!  Now I have a mummy tummy.
   I'm longing for  a week on the beach, a day at the spa, a full night's sleep.
I envy my 11 month old daughter's beautiful hair, brown with copper highlights.  She has my natural hair color and I think that the next salon visit I make will be to say:  give me that color, one last time before my hair goes all gray.  Let us be the same, let me live that moment of youth one more time.
Her eyes are a beautiful sea gray/ green.  She has my heart shaped face, but a mouth from her father's side of the family, (I think - we'll see what it looks like when most of her teeth arrive).
     I'm 40, I'm an older mom. I'm an ex-pat.  I'm Gen X.  We were talking about food co ops at one of my ABA meetings and I admitted to them that I had helped in a food co op when I was a girl.  My parents - co op members, organic gardeners, etc.  Born in 1969, the summer of love, 2 towns over from the Woodstock Festival, upstate NY girl.  Talking to a woman in her 20's who kind of looked at me with her mouth hanging open when I told her.  Born in the sixties.  I'll be 58 when Nora graduates high school.
   She's probably the only child I'll ever have.  I admit that when my younger friends talk about having more, and that when I see little bubs sleeping peacefully, I feel a pulling in my heart.   I should have started earlier, I think.  But, at what cost?  Would I have traded the travel, the dancing, the creative work,  the life of a single gal in NYC?  I might have traded the six years wasted on an older man who didn't have the strength to commit to anything.  But, mostly, I have no regrets about living my life how I did.  So, Nora is my autumn child. The day we brought her home from the hospital, it smelled like fall at home.  The air was crisp.  The fallen leaves were blowing and twirling in the breeze.  It was a good day.  I was scared out of my wits, but it was a good day.
     She is my romping lion, my funny, sunny smiling girl.  She smiles at almost everyone she meets.  She loves music.  She sings to herself.  She bounces with the beat.  She loves maracas and tambourines. She loves playing with her older brother and sister.  They have no idea that babies need to nap.  That over stimulation is a bad thing.  She cries like an opera singer.  She is trying to stand by herself and is frustrated when she falls, again, onto her padded bottom.  She points at everything and says "da!".  "Cabinet", I say, "picture, flower, tree.."  She loves books,  she turns the pages and points.  She has a special shelf where she will place certain toys.  She took her sippy cup down from the end table today, had a drink, and put it back on the table.  She bit my shoulder, she bit my boob, (ouch!).  She throws the ball and chases it.  She rolls it to me.  She plays peek a boo with her blanket in the pram.
She claps.  She plays by herself and says "Hooray!", (thanks to dad and a certain song about being happy).
     I love her with a fierce love, I am her protector, her sleep aid, her meal ticket, her mom.  But, where am I?  Where is the me I once was?  Can I be mom and Jennifer?  Can I be Jennifer and stay sane?   I look in the mirror, place my hands on my cheeks and subtly pull the skin back: 20, 40, 20, 40.
Once I had the face of a twenty year old, but who appreciates that when you have it?   It's not so bad, really, my 40 year old face.  But it looks tired now.
   I wish that I had that village around me that everyone talks about.  I wish that the few friends I had in oz before I had Nora had stuck around after I had her.  I wish that my mom didn't have to watch Nora on Skype like she is watching TV.  I wish that my aunts were around because I miss my family.  I wish that Nora would know her Grandpa Comar the way I knew him when I was a little girl.   I wish that my American mommy friends were around the corner.  I wish that I could curl up on the couch with my cats; one in the bend of my knees, the other in the curve of my chest.
It's getting better, though.  I don't mind it here.  Sometimes I even like it.  If only we had American Target.
Sigh.  Thanks for letting me get that out.