Jan 31, 2014

Mia Turns 11 and Other Things I Can't Explain

Eleven. Last Friday, Mia turned eleven.

When I was pregnant, I was given a stuffed elephant at my baby shower, which became Mia's obvious favorite by the time she was just 6 months old. Since then, Oy (as he is called) has gone with us on every trip we've ever taken, has rarely spent a night away from her side, has endured minor cosmetic surgery, and has inspired an obsession with all things elephant.

I was looking for my missing phone one morning, and found it next to Mia's bed, where I had been reading to her the night before. Oy was safely tucked under the covers, like he is every day while she is at school. It struck me as quite exceptional that we have never lost that elephant, considering our long and impressive history of losing things.

Things we've lost, starting with the most numerous: elastic hairbands, single socks, shoes, keys, shopping lists, glasses, library books, dvds, wallets-- back when we were amateurs we would lose those things practically right after we set them down. Now that we're pros, we lose them at a slightly faster rate.

Hats, gloves, cameras, water bottles, umbrellas, other stuffed animals, backpacks, and a bag of beach toys--all left on various modes of public transportation in the Netherlands and throughout Europe.

Money? Not only have we lost money, but I've been known to just throw it away. Literally, in the trash can at the San Francisco Zoo food court.

My claim to fame is that I lost my engagement ring the day we bought it. The very same day. I dropped it in the kitchen and it disappeared. One replacement ring and six months later, my roommate found it just days before the wedding. It's one of the reasons I don't get engaged much anymore.

We're currently missing an iPod and a cell phone, both of which were last seen in Nate's possession. Ditto for the pepper grinder. Nate pleads the 5th.

The list goes on:
Children (presently, everyone is accounted for).
My fashion sense.
The ability to do more than three jumping jacks in a row.
Oh, and my dignity-- long gone.

And if we found all of our missing toys and game pieces, and spread them out over China...we would barely make a dent because that place is huge. But the point is, there is a staggering amount of plastic crap that was made there, bought by us, and then lost by us.  I'm looking at you, little Lego pieces that turned out to be vitally important.

Yet, somehow, after 11 years and across a continent, we have never lost this little elephant, though there have been a few close calls (once we thought we left Oy on an airplane, and it was extremely upsetting-- for Mia too). It all seems rather amazing.

Also amazing: that we've been parents for eleven years. We're just around the corner from an entirely new parenting phase. The one with the hormones, and the eye rolls, and the begging for the iPhones. Where I get to say things like I think 27 is a good age to start dating, and is this the new misogynist drivel the kids are listening to these days? The one where kids grow up and stuffed animals get put away.

But I need to stop thinking about that before I start losing things all over the place.

Happy birthday Mia. It's a OK with me if you hang on to childhood and your elephant for another few years, or five. For future reference though, that's a no to the iPhone thing. 

Jan 23, 2014

2013 Review, Part 2: Too Little Too Late?

So I crawled out from under my rock the other day, checked to make sure there were no more holidays waiting to ambush me, peeked in on Laundry Mountain (still there), and took a good long look at the calendar.

MARTHA HELEN STEWART. How did we get this far into January? It feels like 2014 is almost over, and I didn't even get to give you a detailed recap of all of our vacations from last year.

For shame.

I remedy that today. Except without so much of the detail, because who has time for that when there are New Years Resolutions to talk about ad nauseam? Too late for that too? Well, crap.

Because it's January 21st (when I started this), here are 21 things from 2013 I never got around to blogging about. And because my resolution is to be suuuuuper cute this year, it's all in a pinterest-worthy infograph pimped out with owls, mason jars, and chevron stripes.

Actually, I don't know how to do any of that. It's just a list with some pictures. I even give up on captions half-way through, but here are some mason jars:

That's right Kyle and Ann, mason jars 4ever.

Ok, that's all the cuteness I can handle-- here we go: 
  1. On January 3, 2013, we had cinnamon rolls for dinner. It's true. I wrote it in my journal even. 

2. Also from my journal in early 2013: "So far I've been diving into writing as my focus for the year. But I keep wondering-- is that really what I want to do? Should I focus instead on being nicer to my kids?" Neither one really panned out. Should have focused on the cinnamon rolls for dinner thing. 
3. We went to Morocco in February. Some highlights: couscous, mint tea, camel rides, turtles in the hotel pool, sunshine, crazy markets, vibrant Islamic culture, and the most amazing hotel we've ever stayed in. Lowlights: winter rain storm, crazy markets, battles over electronic devices with the kids, haggling with vendors, Sam's loud questions in public about Islam, and a 2+ hour quest to find a restaurant from Trip Advisor. 

 We loved Essaouria, just don't ask 
us how to pronounce it. 
We hopped into this VW Bus and happened to meet another American 
family living just outside of Amsterdam. Now we hang out and stuff. 
Nicely done, Fate. 
For so many reasons, Camels are hilarious.
How you doin'? 
Somehow we ended up in this palatial hotel room. 
Seriously, this is just the sitting room. It was way 
out of our league. 
Exploring the Souks in Marrakesh. If we hadn't 
hired a guide, we would still be lost in that maze. 

4. I signed up to chaperon a school field trip here for the first time. It involved supervising 25 oblivious 8 year-olds through the streets of Amsterdam. 8 year-olds who didn't speak my language.
Try not to die, kids! 

5. Mark turned 39, and what better way to celebrate than with a big whack in the face with a pillow? 
International Pillow Fight Day

 6. We traipsed through Budapest for a week like no body's business. 
It doesn't get much more Budapest than men in gold
necklaces playing chess in a thermal mineral bath.
We had this delicious, unpronounceable pastry, and Nate took full advantage of my distracted euphoria.

7. The 16th Wedding Anniversary is the awkward selfie anniversary right? 
What am I supposed to be looking at? Is this on video? 

8. Mia's class did a gardening unit, and she liked it. Mia liked it!  
All the kids are into mutant carrots these days. 

9. We took our boat out on the canals occasionally, and one time it didn't even break down. 

 10. To celebrate July 4th with friends, we schlepped 3 watermelons, 2 pies, and a case of root beer on the metro.  All because we love freedom (from the tyranny of automobiles). 

11. On the eve of our 2nd anniversary in Amsterdam, we boarded a night train for Copenhagen. It was all fun and games until we realized the beds were just slabs of granite in disguise. We were only in Copenhagen 2 days, and we ate at 7-11 at least three times-- don't judge, they're better in Denmark. From there we took a train to Berlin, where we melted in the Summer heat, and cursed Europeans and their disdain for ice cold drinks. Then, we went to an old nuclear bunker (it'll be fun kids!), which caused Sam to have his first panic attack and scarred his tender little soul. Best Parents Award 2013! 

12. Mark's mom came to visit in August. We took her to Paris, and raced in rented golf carts at Versailles. Heading home, we stopped for 5 minutes for the kids to buy sparkly Eiffel Tower souvenirs, and missed our nonrefundable, nonexchangeable train back to Amsterdam by three minutes. Our best available option was to rent a car from the airport for nearly 500 euro, and drive home.  Most expensive chotchkies ever. 

13. We picked up our first family pet, Amsterdam style. And so we entered that phase where our house persistently smells vaguely of hamster.

14. We came upon this phenomenon while on a road trip in the Netherlands one weekend, and wondered if we'd entered some sort of alternative dimension.
What the?

 15. My parents popped in for a few days in September. We visited the city of Delft, but opted to skip all the pottery and Vermeer sights, in favor of the plaque to Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Father of Microbiology. Naturally. 
When your parents are Microbiology geeks. 

16. Italia! Two of my sisters and one niece came to visit in October. We thought, hey, why not do a whirlwind 3-city tour of Italy in 9 days with 8 people and billions of other tourists?! So we did. Because Gelato. It was all worth dropping your iPhone from the balcony of St. Mark's Basilica, right Katy? 

17. I indulged my own inner geek, and made the pilgrimage to Beethoven's birthplace in Bonn, Germany. 
Sorry kids, your mother was a music major. 

18. For my birthday, Mark sent me to a writing workshop, during which, we had the following text exchange: 
Me: Don't forget about Sinterklaas on Beethovenstraat. 
Mark: No offense but your writing hasn't changed much. 

19. Christmas Eve: every time I spend hours making something from scratch for a holiday, Sam finds a way to step in it. And every holiday I try not to kill him. 
Yay, traditions.

 20. This:

21. Sometime between April and June of 2013, it happened: Amsterdam began to feel like home. Moving away is going to hurt.

22. While avoiding finishing this blog post, I convinced the kids to help me sort our Lego collection by color. It was an extremely satisfying procrastination + OCD combo. Can't wait to alphabetize the Matchbox cars by make and model. 

Obligatory Owl: 
I believe this is symbolic for "when will the
owl trend just die already?"