Friday, April 24, 2009

One More Week Gone By

Second week of work - finished. Today I actually stayed home. Scratch that. I didn’t go to work, but I wasn’t at home. I went to Shay’s school for the 3rd grade culture kit presentations. I’d love to tell you all about it, but it’s late and I have to sleep.

Tomorrow my husband returns from the States. In fact, he should be winging his way back already, so fingers crossed for his safe journey, please.

Unfortunately for me, he won’t return until the afternoon, which leaves me to take the kids to the International Fair at the school without him. I’ve been having nightmares – literal nightmares – about losing Kyra in the crowd, as this Fair is enormous. An hour ago, I hit upon the brilliant idea of pinning my cell phone number to her back, and I’m feeling a bit better now. (of course, seeing as how I’m deaf, I won’t likely hear my cell phone ringing in my purse, but still…)

So hopefully I’ll get a good sleep tonight, nightmare-free. I need it.

Yes, I did manage to write that article that was due, but I still have to proof, re-draft and submit it. Hopefully by Sunday, or my editor is going to be seriously unhappy.

But before I finish the article, I have to post about Shay’s culture kit today. He did a great job. And I came pretty close to smacking another mother in the head when she started yelling at her poor kid. Seriously, what’s wrong with some of these parents? Let the kid make her own mistakes already. But I didn’t hit the lady, which should qualify me for some sort of award. These days, I’m looking for any excuse to win a good mother award. I won't likely get one for my skillful ordering of pizza - though I am quite adept at that.

Okay. I’m off to bed. Check back here in the next few days and I’ll try to tell you the story of the crazy parent at the culture kit thingee. Unless I have a better story about not losing any kids at the International Fair.

Who knows? I might even get all crazy and post a picture or something…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not Much Time

Oh, this is painful. I finished my first week of work. Technically, just 24 hours a week. But here it is: up at 6 a.m., get self ready, get kids ready, push two kids out the door for the bus and get out the door myself by 8 a.m. Sit in my quiet office til 3:30, reading and typing and reading and typing. Then race home – arrive by 4:15. Change and take kids to playground for an hour. Back home, eat dinner, pack lunches, baths, books, etc. Fall into bed.

Blog? Not so much.

For starters, I can’t really blog about the job. The State Department frowns on employees blogging about their work, and at the moment I’m an employee, not a spouse. But I can say I’ve landed in the perfect little job for writer me. So I’m quite pleased about it. Exhausted, yes. But if you’re going to leave your kids with a nanny to go earn a paycheck, I really think it helps if you enjoy what you’re doing. And the best part? It’s project-based, which means in one more month, if I decide it’s too much, I turn in my project and walk away. But if I like it, I can ask for another project.

So there’s that. Of course, when I decided to take the job, I figured I’d have a husband at home to help on the weekends. But he just took off for an emergency trip to the States, so I’m now officially a single working mom. Really not so easy.

We made it through the weekend, with a little help from my take out menus and grocery delivery. And now here it is, Sunday night. Lunches aren’t packed. Shower isn’t taken. Darling daughter isn’t sleeping. And I certainly haven’t written the article that is due any minute now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lookee Here! I'm Famous!

Well, maybe not famous exactly. But Alan Paul interviewed me for the "Expat Life" column he writes for the Wall Street Journal (thanks, Global Gal, for letting me know it was online). I never got to meet Alan while he lived in Beijing, but I've been an avid reader of his column ever since Ambassador Ordway pointed it out to me, so it's fun to get a mention.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Around the World in 80 Clicks

I opened my Google Reader during a much needed break to find that I’d been tagged not once, but twice. Mothergoosemouse and Connie both tagged me for Around the World in 80 Clicks. I’m supposed to share 5 things I love about being a mother.

But today, I’m struggling to come up with 5 things. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I do love being a mother. And I wouldn’t trade this crazy life of mine for anything. But 5 specific things I love? In a week when I’ve been bitten by an infant and thrown up on by a 9-year-old, when I either have a nasty cold or a horrible allergy, when I’ve been too busy to breathe, it’s really hard to think of 5 concrete examples of why I love this life of mine.

So I turned to the resident expert. I explained to Shay that I had some work to do, and told him I was trying to think of these 5 wonderful things about motherhood. “That’s easy,” he said, without missing a beat. “I know EXACTLY what you’re going to say.”

So here they are, Shay’s top THREE reasons I love being a mother. (He could only think of 3 before I sent him to bed – clearly the kid was stalling for time.)

First, says Shay, “you really like it when you go to meet the school bus, and your kids get off the bus and they are angry and yelling.” I do? Why is that? Because, he explains, that means you’re doing a good job. If your kids were always smiling and cheerful and saying “please” and “thank you,” he says, they just wouldn’t be normal kids. So if they are rude and yell at you sometimes, it means they’re normal. Which means you’re doing a good job. Which means you’re happy. Voila.

Second, says Shay, “You really like being a mom because sometimes you get to see your kids instead of your friends.” Go on, say I, somewhat skeptically. Well, he says, if there were no kids around, you would only get to hang out with your friends. But since you have all of these kids, you get to hang around with them, too. And that makes you happy! See?

Lastly, says Shay, “You get to see what you were maybe like as a kid.” In other words, when you see the things your kids do, it’s like looking into a little backwards mirror and getting to see what you used to be like.

There you have it. Shay’s Top 3 Reasons I Love Being A Mother, coming at you live from Beijing, China.

I love the way those little minds work. And I love being a mother. Even on those days when I can’t think of a single reason to love it, I love it anyway. I love them anyway. Oh, how I do.

I’m supposed to tag 5 more people. But maybe I should stick with 3 since it seems to be working for me. I’d like to hear from Jill (currently posted to India but actually hanging at a Starbucks in California), Tressa at American in Norway, and Candid Carrie (U.S.ofA.).

As If I Don't Already Have Enough to Do...

... now I have a job.

I was just hired on as a sort of a temporary roving employee at the Embassy. Basically, whenever they have projects that need doing on any of the main cones (Political, Public Diplomacy, Econ), they can call me and offer me the project. If I like it, I take it.

My first offer was to help out in the Political section, working with the Human Rights people. How cool is that? It's part-time through May, so I took it. I start Tuesday.

My security clearance is being updated, so those of you who know me in real life might get a visit from a federal agent type. Meanwhile, I went to the Embassy for my security briefing, and now I can go to my husband's office whenever I feel like it! (Previously, as an uncleared American, I wasn't allowed to enter the building.)

I have all sorts of stuff to do to get ready for work, like getting work clothes tailored and freezing some meals for my first week. But I suspect none of it will get done, because the boys have half days today and tomorrow (teacher conferences) and I have to turn in some article edits to an editor by week's end.

People work and raise kids all the time, right?

Right?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

When 911 is Not an Option

I was in my kitchen, thinking about lunch, when I heard someone screaming my name in the front hallway. I ran out and found my neighbor, holding her baby in her arms, in an absolute panic.

The baby had stopped breathing, and as she told me later, when she realized that calling 911 wasn’t an option, she didn’t know what to do, so she picked him up and ran to my house.

It was scary, I can tell you now. Since it’s her baby, not mine, the details aren’t mine to share. Suffice to say that the baby is okay. His mom? Probably not so much. I’m pretty sure she’s having some nightmares still.

There is no 911 here. And we all know this, in theory, when we arrive, but the reality is frightening when it hits. I did a story on kid safety issues when I first arrived here, and I still remember interviewing the chief of the ER at the main hospital, who listed all the things he’s seen go wrong, and then said that we all need to be prepared to be our own first responders, because there’s no guarantee that an ambulance will arrive in time when we need one – and even if it does arrive, most ambulances don’t have EMTs aboard, just drivers. Indeed, my neighbor’s ayi was shaking when she told me she called the Chinese ambulance service and they said there were no cars available.

It’s a reality of overseas life, and has been everywhere we’ve lived so far, even in the big cities like Beijing. So we all cross our fingers that nothing happens, and we know which houses to run to when we’re in need.

In this particular case, I called the Embassy doctor’s emergency phone, and he talked us through what needed to be done. We then took the baby to a nearby clinic – he was breathing again, thankfully – and they checked him out before sending us on to the ER for further testing.

Every mom’s worst nightmare. And a reminder that we all – and you, too – need to update our first aid certifications.
Please. Write your own stuff.