So This Happened

So I realized I haven’t put up a new post in about three months. There’s really no good excuse for this, other than the fact that I had a baby two months ago. Baby S arrived in the world a couple of days late, with a head full of what promises to be very curly hair. So far, she’s been a champ eater, sleeper, and pooper…what else could you possibly ask for?

In the past couple of months, I have become quite prolific on Twitter, probably because my thought process doesn’t go beyond 140 characters these days.

It was first on Twitter that I started writing some observations about being a parent of two children.

I want to compile them here in one easy list that will surely grow as the years go by. I’m sure these thoughts and observations are in no way, shape, or form original or earth shattering. But they’re mine and this is my blog, so I get to write them.

1. After having a second child, I realized that we had no idea what we were doing the first time around. From the 20 wipe diaper change to every freak out concerning a rash… Goodness we were completely clueless.

2. There really is such a thing as forgetting to eat. I always thought it was a dainty person’s way of saying that they were dieting. Alas, no.

3. I’ve already been disabused of the notion that second children are a lot mellower than first children. But I still can’t help feeling that it is true in some way. Things that S does that P just did not do very well: eat, sleep, be chill.

4. Before having a second child, I was somewhat worried that the amount of love that I would feel would be somehow less than for a firstborn. Man, was I wrong.

5. Once human cloning is an actual option, mothers of multiple children will be first in line for that technology. All of a sudden I am needed everywhere at once. I foresee this being the case for the next 18 years.

6. My oh my how do people handle more than two kids in a household?

Anyway, so far these are the only observations I can think of. If you have any nuggets of wisdom, please feel free to share in the comments section.

The Play Date

A couple of weeks ago, P had her very first play date. Before you pass horrid judgement at the fact that she was almost three before this milestone took place, please let me explain myself.

P was born in the lovely (and expensive) city of San Francisco, and since we knew we wouldn’t be living there permanently, I didn’t bother joining any mommy groups. So I completely missed out on the whole mommy-group camaraderie, as well as the possibility of having women around with kids P’s age.

We ended up moving twice in P’s first three years, so there wasn’t really any time to settle down and find friends with similarly-aged kids. And it turns out that none of my friends who live within a thirty-minute driving radius have kids around P’s age. So that wasn’t an option either.

I was excited when P started preschool, thinking that I’d soon meet other kids’ parents and we would start the whole mysterious cycle of play dates. But meeting said parents turns out to be rather difficult when you all have different drop-off and pick-up times.

So I just figured I’d wait it out until P started going to slumber parties sometime in high school.

One day at school, though, I had a fabulous surprise waiting for me: the mom of P’s BFF had left a note with her email and phone number, asking if we were around during winter break, and if we’d be interested in setting up a play date between P and S.

Interested? I was practically doing a happy dance. I think I was way more excited than P was, because honestly I don’t know that she knew what a play date even was.

After a few backs and forths on email, we decided on a Bat time and a Bat place, and I was to bring drinks (which, in my excitement turned out to be way too many for a two-hour play date). The girls played happily with one another until around lunch time, at which point P got completely cranky and needed some space. Apparently, that’s normal at toddler play dates. So much to learn.

S’s mama and I chatted happily, complained a bit about our preschool, drank yummy tea, and had a lovely snack. And I finally figured out that the play date was as much for our sake as it was for the girls’. So, so much to learn.

On Music

If you thought that you couldn’t be moved to tears (tears of pain, not laughter) by a cartoon, then you’ve never been an Iranian expat watching Persepolis.The movie-length cartoon, based on the graphic novels (or comic books?) of the same name, tells the story of a young Iranian who lives through the Revolution, moves abroad, moves back to Iran, and goes back abroad again.

There are many poignant and unbelievable scenes, but the one that always makes me dissolve in a pool of tears is the scene in which Marjane is walking around, trying to buy some music illegally on the streets. If you’ve never seen it, here it is on YouTube:


Anyway, many things in the movie seem surreal, but none other than the sight of a teenager on the prowl for some Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, and “Jichael Mackson.” The scene may be comical (it is), but it is also a really painful snapshot of how things really were in Iran.

For my sister and her cool friends (and by extension, moi, because what little sister doesn’t annoyingly follow everything her older one does?), it was always A-Ha (you may remember my post about Iranians’ obsession with blonds). However, my parents wouldn’t DREAM of having their 13 year-old (my sister, not me) go out and get in trouble by prowling for illegal music. So my mother would take it upon herself to head to the seedy parts of town, asking for any new A-Ha tapes. Little did we know that A-Ha released very little new music after their huge hit, “Take On Me.”

So my mom came back one day with what I believe was a U2 tape…Joshua Tree maybe? You know the song “With or Without You”? The part where the chorus goes “with or without you ahhhhhh haaaaaaaa, I can’t liiiiiiiiiiiive”? Well, I (or was it my sister?) pretty much convinced myself (ourselves?) that the “ah ha” in the middle of the song really meant that the band singing was, indeed, A-Ha. And we would sing along without abandon, with our nonexistent English skills, while my parents (who, you know, actually knew the language) would try to correct us by telling us the real words. All the while we’d continue singing phonetically and declare that they were the ones wrong in their word choice and pronunciation.

That is a very long trip down memory lane, and all things I’ve been thinking about as P gets more and more excited about singing and dancing, and music in general. At this point, I’m leaving all the preschool songs to my parents, while I slowly indoctrinate her in all things Beatles.

This has been surprisingly easy, since there are so many animal-themed Beatles songs. She loves “Octopus’s Garden,” but isn’t that crazy about “Piggies.” “Blackbird” is a bit slow for her, but she tolerates it pretty well since I insist on belting it out at the top of my lungs. Her favorite though? Definitely a non-animal themed song: “Michelle.” She requests it every other day, and insists that I sing it to her every night to say goodnight.

She even knows the words and sings along. Sometimes, she sings by herself. One time, we were walking in San Francisco, and she was singing “Michelle” with very little help from me. We passed a cafe, and a woman looked at P singing, and couldn’t contain her excitement. “Yes,” she said, “start them early!”

She even tries to sing the French parts…you know, “sont le mot qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble.” (Forgive the incorrect spelling, but I’m working on high school French here.) Her French sounds like you would expect a 2 1/2 non-native French person sounding: pretty rough. She basically just mouths the words really theatrically, looking at me with wide eyes to see if she’s saying them correctly.

She probably sounds like my sister and me about twenty years ago, as we tried singing along to U2. The obvious big difference being that instead of going to horrid parts of town and risking arrest to get some music, I just turn on my iPod.

Strange how seeing your child do something triggers a whole flood of different memories from your own childhood. And makes you respect what your parents did when you were growing up.

I’ll try introducing P to A-Ha (maybe) and U2 (definitely). And have my mom tell her stories of what it was like trying to find those tapes in the seedy parts of Tehran.

I’ll Put it on My Eyes

My family had been living in the U.S. for just over a year when we moved into an incredibly cute duplex in a working class town 20 miles south of San Francisco. The house had a front yard filled with wood chips, a sunny eat-in kitchen, and hardwood floors throughout.

We had moved to Northern California from Irving, Texas, not too long before. In Texas, we first lived at my aunt’s house (for…two months? Three? The details are fuzzy) and then a hopelessly depressing apartment.

So the duplex in San Leandro was definitely a step up. And we had an awesome view: the house across the street. It was one of those beautifully refined Craftsman-style houses–incredibly well-kept and sporting a fantastic yard.

The man who lived there was, in every sense, quite neighborly. He was always out in his yard with a huge sun-hat, perfecting the garden, waving hello as we walked or drove by.

We hadn’t been there very long when he knocked on the door one day, presenting my dad with a huge basket of vegetable-garden bounty. I remember there were zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

My father, already an emotional man, was over the moon. He started praising the vegetables, our neighbor, America in general, and ended with “Thank you so much. I’ll put them on my eyes.”

Our neighbor wasn’t really sure what to make of this, and said something to the effect of, well, I guess you can do that, but it’s probably better if you eat them.

You see, my dad was literally translating a common saying in Farsi. The phrase, which is said when one person gives another something of value, literally means “I’ll put the [insert gift here] on my eyes.” But the real meaning is that the gift is so precious that I’ll put them on my most precious possession, my eyes (well, something to that effect anyway). It’s just a very flowery way of saying thank you.

That little sentence has fueled my love for all things involving literal translations. They are a fantastic, albeit nerdy, source of amusement.

Fast-forward 20 years, as I try valiantly (and often fail) to sing P lullabies that are actually lullabies, and not Tori Amos or Simon & Garfunkel songs. This is how bad I am–until recently, I would finish “Hush Little Baby” in this way:

If that looking glass don’t shine
Mama’s gonna buy you a concubine.

Every night I would think, what if she asks me what a concubine is tonight? So when I remembered, I would use “porcupine” instead. I pretty much learned how to correctly end that song while watching Skylar singing it to her newborn baby on Breaking Bad. (Ohhhhhhhhh Daddy loves you and so do I!)

So when an Italian friend and his American wife, back from a trip to the Ye Olde Country, gave us a book of traditional Italian nursery rhymes and lullabies, I was super excited. If I can’t teach P all the right American songs, at least A can teach her Italian ones.

And then I saw the songs and rhymes.

And they are ripe for a literal translation.

Here’s the first (please excuse my shoddy translations and lack of rhyming. It’s been a while):

Under the Baracca Bridge,

Little Gigin is pooping.

His poop is really, really hard,

So a doctor came to measure it.

He measured thirty-three,

Now it’s your time to count!

It needs to be said: wha? A nursery rhyme about pooping? Really hard, worrisome poop that needs doctor intervention? This may be the best nursery rhyme ever!

Well, that’s what I thought until I read this next one:


Three little owls on the dresser

Were making love to the doctor’s daughter

The doctor got really really mad


OK. WHAT? This is a nursery rhyme? About three owls having sex with the doc’s daughter? Who, rightfully so, gets mad? I mean, wouldn’t you if three owls were having sex with your daughter? All I can say is, leave it to the Italians to come up with a nursery rhyme that involves sex.

A laughed hysterically when he saw these rhymes in the book. I guess it’s one thing to hear them said over and over again, and it’s completely different to see them written on paper.

Well, K and M, friends who brought back the book from Italy: I love it. I’ll put it on my eyes.

Thanksgiving in April

The other day I was walking to work when a bus drove by, the side of it practically screaming the new spring Gap ad with the following slogan: “Be Bright.”

The ad made me think of the Christmas cards we sent out a couple of years ago (which said “Be Merry, Be Bright”), which then made me think of the holidays, and then my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Then it made me think of one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving: reading all those blogs in which bloggers state why they are thankful.

I made a mental note of writing a thankful post for Thanksgiving, and then reminded myself that I would never remember. So I figured I would just do it now. If you can have Christmas in July, why not Thanksgiving in April?

Here goes.

Every weekend, I am thankful that I have a husband who is much, much cleaner than I am. He won’t rest until the bathrooms are cleaned, the house is vacuumed, and the wood floors are Swiffered. It makes me feel slightly guilty for not being so neat, but at least someone will keep me honest–and keep the house from being a complete hovel.

Even though P gets more colds than _______ [insert name of person you know who gets the most colds], I’m eternally grateful that the only health issue I have to deal with are sniffling noses and coughing. Knock on wood, tocca ferro, etc.

I’m so thankful that my parents live nearby, so all those sniffling noses don’t force us to decide whether to skip work or send a sick child to preschool.

I’m excited that close friends are having (or have just had) kids, so P will have playmates outside of her circle of friends in preschool and beyond.

I eternally grateful that someone (ahem, my mother-in-law) finally taught me how to fold fitted sheets, so our linen closet doesn’t look like a bulging mess.

I thank my lucky stars for fantastic friends near and far, especially when they do incredibly generous things like treating us to a hotel stay in Seattle.

I’m grateful that what I thought was a catastrophe a few years ago (being laid off during the height of the economic downturn) actually turned out to be a blessing, leading to a second career as a writer. Things like this will give me perspective when I’m in a funk or generally down on myself.

I’m beyond thankful that the second career in writing gives me the ability to work from home twice a week, saving me from a commute and giving me more time to spend with P.

I’m ecstatic that despite the responsibilities of a family, a job, and a new obsession with the Game of Thrones books, I have some time to jot down a few thoughts once in a while and have people like you read them.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving. Tell me what you’re thankful for this spring.