Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: Alycat and the Thursday Dessert Day

by Alysson Foti Bourque; illustrated by Chiara Civati

Buy it on Amazon!

Every Thursday the kids at Alycat’s school get to eat dessert after lunch. Alycat is so excited to choose from ice cream, fudge popsicles and popsicles with cream in the middle. Dessert is all she can talk about at breakfast on Thursday morning; she even daydreams about dessert on the bus on the way to school.

Alycat is so distracted by her excitement, she misses the bell and is late getting to the cafeteria for lunch. By the time she makes it through the lunch line, all of the ice cream, fudge popsicles and popsicles with cream in the middle are gone. Alycat is so disappointed she refuses another dessert from the younger kitten’s dessert choices. She says she won’t have any dessert at all as tears stream down her face.

Her friend Spotty tells her not to worry so much because it’s the same ice cream every week and nothing exciting. She is surprised that Spotty doesn’t look forward to dessert day as much as she does! He tells Alycat that trying something new would be a nice change.

Alycat is still disappointed when she arrives home and tells her mom about the day. Her mom suggests Alycat should have tried a different dessert from the younger kitten’s choices because “sometimes change is good.”

Alycat isn’t convinced at first. But later that evening, she has a spark of inspiration and decides to make popcorn popsicles with her craft supplies, popcorn, chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles. She discovers that the result is delicious! She shares the popcorn popsicles with her brother Bugsy. He likes them so much he suggests Alycat bring some to school the next day. She agrees that this is a great idea!

When Alycat brings treats for her class the next day, her teacher approves saying that she’s glad Alycat tried something new. And the other kids liked the popsicles so much that Alycat is determined to make and share more desserts. She loves dessert day and “trying new things is exciting!”

Alycat learns an important lesson about trying new things, thanks to her family and friends. Alycat’s little brother Bugsy deserves a lot of credit for encouraging Alycat. He is actually the one who came up with the idea for the popcorn popsicles. He also came up with the idea to share the new treat with Alycat’s class the next day. Alycat’s friend Spotty is also integral to Alycat’s willingness to try something new. And her mom is very supportive and encouraging. Alycat has some great family and friends guiding her.

The story is so cute and the illustrations are adorable! Including the popcorn popsicle recipe at the end is the cherry on top. If my daughter were a bit older, we’d be making these tonight. I will share this book and recipe with my six-year-old niece over Thanksgiving weekend, and I know she’ll love it. In fact, I think it may make a great early Christmas present for both of my nieces!

(Easy-reader, 6-8)

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Plague On Both Your Parents

We have made many changes and my life has been completely without any routine for the past year. We moved out here when I was pregnant, had the baby, then I decided not to go back to my job and have decided to go back to school... and of course, I'm shooting for a spot in a very competitive program and have a ton of prerequisites to meet. If you're an avid Boobs and Pooper, you've already read all about it.

My taking classes and tutoring students are only possible thanks to two reliable childcare options we now have during the week: the assistance of a part-time nanny and a part-time spot at an awesome daycare.

To say I was excited to get back to a routine and let some other people deal with my baby is an understatement. I was elated all that first week. For the first time in forever, I had my own schedule and am able to "do me" periodically throughout the week.

That wonderful feeling of elation was eradicated within that same week.

The Saturday following our first perfectly executed workweek routine, we took a trip to visit some friends at Underwood Family Farms. Our little darling barfed all over herself on the way there. We cleaned her up and she took some water. She didn't get sick again while we were at the Farm, and she ate a lot. She was actually in a great mood.

She threw up all over herself again on the way home.

She seemed okay when we were home and settled, and she didn't have a fever. We kind of assumed she might have been genuinely carsick.

Then on Sunday, the cold symptoms started to appear. By Monday, it was evident she had a bad bug. Monday evening, my husband started feeling it.

By Tuesday morning, I was also not feeling great. And I had two very sick family members to tend to. My daughter was in no shape to go to daycare, so I had to call her out both days. My husband - who never skips work - missed two and one-half days of work.

By Wednesday morning, both my husband and I were referring to our familial illness as the plague... In our separate worst moments (which thankfully didn't coincide), neither adult could be away from a bathroom longer than 20 minutes. To boot both adults and child were completely congested, coughing, sneezing and unable to breathe through a nose in the house.

It persisted Thursday and Friday and through the next weekend. And as it turns out, not only were we sick with our perfectly planned childcare situation blown to smithereens, we were woefully unprepared to learn that daycare still costs money when you're child isn't even there. We learned that you still have to pay for daycare on the days your child is too sick to go. So we paid for 2 unusable daycare sessions, and we paid our nanny to come in for a couple of hours on her off days.

Furthermore, the stress of not knowing what to do (What if our nanny can't make it tomorrow, and we can't take her to daycare, and you're too sick to help me while I work? What if, what if, what if?!?!) was excruciating.

We got our little angel, and shockingly got ourselves, through the first week... and then the second week. Whatever this yuckiness was, it lingered almost 3 weeks. I am finally confident we're all in the clear.

As my husband and I have started to feel better, we've joked that someone at Avery's daycare must have proclaimed "a plague on both your parents!"

And to all of your mommies and daddies stuck at home sick with sick babies, good luck.

Monday, September 5, 2016

UPDATE: She left a review...

The owner (and unknowing recipient of my buried feces) from whom we rented a cabin finally left her review:
Nice little family! Kept to themselves the whole four days Could have taken more care not to scratch the wood floor when moving furniture around Apart from that, they were easy guests to host 
July 2016

Phew! By the skin of our tushies, we got away with it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Shitty Rental Experience

This somehow insanley relevant image was pulled from this article

We like to use Air BnB or VRBO in lieu of the traditional hotel room when we travel with the baby. Having a kitchen and a separate-ish sleeping space for the baby is critical, especially for longer trips. We didn't have the option to lodge with family this time and so Air BnB it was.

This particular Air BnB experience wasn't so great... This isn't a formal review, as I think some of our experience wasn't about the cabin or the owner - we were just woefully unprepared for the rustic cabin experience with a crawling baby. I also remembered Topanga Canyon being a little more centrally located than it is. I didn't recall the winding canyon roads being so long, or nauseating.

We both ought to have known better because we both lived nearby for many years. I, however, was the one who went through the process of booking this accommodation on Air BnB. So I feel responsible for the misery of our poor child, suffering in her pack 'n' play in a hot sticky room, with the stench of her poo as it co-mingled with the stench of ours.

The sensitive septic system was unable to handle any paper. In fact, the owner requested that we "let yellow mellow" and only flush for number two. Paper in the basket no matter what.

This wouldn't have been such an issue for a shorter trip. But we were there for 5 nights. As we veterans of Air BnB know, the owners don't send a maid service around to exchange towels or collect trash. We did our best to stay on top of the accumulating waste, which included dirty baby diapers and anything we'd used to wipe ourselves. We dusted, used our own towels and took a load of laundry to my in-laws. But we felt filthy from bones to skin, and the cabin just kind of smelled like a bathroom... We felt as though we were sleeping in a public bathroom, you know, like an airport bathroom, but in the middle of a pretty canyon.

There were other scary and inconvenient things about this cabin, such as the 50-foot incline we had to walk to get from our parking space to the cabin. Or the fact that the owner's home sat literally on top of the cabin, and the owner regularly walked through the yard. Or the fact that the bread and tortillas we brought were eaten by a squirrel or a rat. That's right, a thieving rodent was in the cabin where our daughter slept in a pack 'n' play on the floor. Ugh...

But this wouldn't be a proper Boobs and Poop post if I were to focus on those things!

One night, I believe it was the third night of our stay, I awoke and had to go pee. Without thinking, I flushed the toilet and down went the toilet paper along with my pee pee... I sighed and went back to bed thinking that since it was the one time we'll be okay.

I went back to sleep and when I awoke the following morning, my husband was already plunging away. It seems he'd made the same mistake as I and flushed his own toilet paper down the toilet. He worked away and the toilet did not officially overflow. But we were left in that awkward purgatory where the water level rises to an uncomfortable level and almost spills over before it begins to slowly lower. And then the toilet runs and runs... Will it, won't it? Will we have to bug the owner about it?

There was a point when I was in the cabin with the baby, trying to get her to nap. My husband was out and about with his family. I believe this was the morning of the big event (the reason we were in the area) and I knew our darling baby would be completely off-schedule that afternoon and evening. So I wanted her to get some sleep.

As soon as she relaxed and fell asleep, I felt an urgent need to poop. I was so scared to flush the toilet at all. Outside I went. I found a spot that I thought was pretty private and crouched. After I did my business, I cleaned myself up, buried my business and sprayed the area with bug spray.

I'm not going to lie. I felt accomplished. The baby was still soundly asleep and I'd relieved myself without having to flush the toilet.

I believe I mentioned that the owner's cabin is nestled just above the guest cabin where we stayed. I didn't think to look up before I devised my poopy plan. But when I'd finished and I did look up, I saw the owner outside her own home doing yardwork. There she stood, literally feet away from where I'd just pooped and buried it on her property.

I convinced myself she didn't see me. I later told my husband the story and did my best to convince him she did not see me.

We have yet to get an Air BnB review from her. What if she did see me? Will she write "occupant shits in the yard and buries it in broad daylight" in her review? Will other Air BnB hosts see this?

To say the least, I'm fairly apprehensive about booking any accommodations on Air BnB until I've seen a review from this host.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finding Myself In Diamond Bar

I laugh at myself every time I consider the fact that we live in Diamond Bar.

It's not just that it's so suburban, or that we're living this totally boring family-focused life here. In my early twenties, I worked for a British curling iron operation. I worked for the heavily-scrutinized North American division, where under the guidance of an over-eager salesman-turned-CEO I drove to Diamond Bar from Westlake once a month to conduct sales meetings. It was one of those "many hats" situations wherein it mattered not that I was the marketing coordinator, I was convinced that the health of our business depended on my driving 120 miles round trip to deliver a sales presentation to a group of rowdy hairstylists each month. I was too young to question any of this then.

Anyhow, each month as my coworker and I made the long trek to Diamond I'd joke about having to travel to "Bumble F**k Egypt" for irrelevant meetings. To my mind, Diamond Bar was not a place to live, but a faraway place to endure and abandon quickly.

So we live here now. As an indirect consequence (sort of), I am also unemployed.

We relocated when I was 8 months pregnant, at my request.

We were living in Santa Monica, 9 blocks from the beach. I was working in Brentwood, a 15-minute drive from our apartment on surface streets! It was heavenly. But my husband, and the breadwinner, was making one hell of a commute to City of Industry every day to make it work. He'd leave the house at about 4:30am; he'd start the hour-long (without traffic) commute home no earlier than 8:00pm. I hardly saw him during the week.

As we were putting the finishing touches on the nursery in our 2-bedroom in Santa Monica, we both knew it was over. We were both worried that as soon as he went back to work, I'd feel like a single parent during the week. What we once thought was a pretty spacious place (for Santa Monica anyway) shrank around us, closing us in. The place was too small, and too damn expensive... and too far away from what might soon become our sole source of income. We had to move inland.

I'd have to quit my job when I returned from maternity leave, after all. I had been struggling with this. I hadn't been happy there for a good long while. And pregnancy changed my perspective about the work I was doing quite substantially. As I got bigger and bigger, the issues of the day seemed more and more trivial. I genuinely stopped caring about projects, deadlines, conference calls, emails and all of it.

Nonetheless, I was scared to quit. What else was I going to do? And what would we do for money once the state-sponsored maternity benefits ran out?

We determined that I'd quit that particular job. We didn't move all the way out here so that I would be doing the same commute my husband could no longer stand. We knew that ultimately I'd do something to bring in a little money while being the primary caregiver to our new teammate.

I found what I thought was a great fit. The gig was to manage production for a company that makes handmade fabric products and sells them online. Everyone, most of whom happened to be moms, worked remotely and the idea was to have a bunch of self-sufficient one-woman departments working in tandem. It was such a lovely idea but managing the reality was really difficult on the staff and for the owner. It was an amicable departure, but I was "let go" for the first time in my life.

I didn't care. Well, I did. My ego was certainly bruised. I struggled with "less than" thoughts and feelings for a couple of days. But a bigger part of me was so relieved. I was not happy in the position, and thus was not contributing to the best of my ability.

Since then I've been looking for a new job, but half-heartedly. My heart and head have been elsewhere. Two colleagues and I contemplated starting our own company. I've also been spending some quality time on myself. I challenged myself to practice Bikram yoga for 37.5 hours in one month. I've read several books. I went on a few hikes. I've made fried chicken and fried pork and all manner of southern fare - just for fun. I haven't been writing - but am taking corrective action on that now.

In these past several months, I have conclusively decided I don't want to be a marketer anymore. I don't want to use my talents or spend my time supporting another's idea, product or business. The afore-mentioned conversation entertained betwixt myself and two colleagues aside, I have lost interest in the creation of new products. And I've lost sight of the "white spaces" I used to see on every retail shelf...

You've got to love it, change it or leave it, right?

I already left it and have now determined I'll stay away. My husband and I together have decided I shall return to school in pursuit of a completely different career.

I have always been interested in language studies, and my mom has always encouraged me to consider becoming a Speech Language Therapist. After some careful thought and intense Google research, I've decided to go for it. To do so, one must first pursue a master's degree in Communicative Disorders. Finding a school with this master's program is not easy. Serendipitously, a school not 10 miles away from Diamond has a very reputable program. CSU Fullerton, here I come!

To get into the program, however, I must dedicate a bit of time to fulfilling prerequisites. I start next Monday, with the goal of actually applying to the Master's program in 2018. I'd like to graduate from the program no later than 2020. So we're on a 2-4 year plan.

In the next 2-4 years, I'll not only be pursuing a degree, I'll be popping out another kid. We want two kids. We don't want them to be too far apart in age, and I frankly want to get pregnancy over with.

So I've found myself in Diamond Bar, unemployed, planning my second pregnancy and going back to school. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this is where I'd be at 32, but here I am. And I've never felt more like myself.