Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm 34!

I'm finally 34! Gosh, I never thought I would be here. I actually never thought about getting this old when I was a kid. What kid does, right? But we all do. It's kind of an interesting age. I'm not really that old but when I look at my kids I realize that I am. Having the kids really helps me remember that time will continue passing whether I choose for it to or not. I looked at some pictures of myself 5 years ago. I was 29. I had just moved to Turkey and it was a hard time for our little family. I was so selfish and self-centered. If I could have changed anything about that time, I would have done two things. I would have brought more books to read, and I would have written every day about something cute my children had done. Now that we have moved along in life and I find myself a bit older and beginning yet another chapter in our lives, I need to remember that advice and not complain about my lot. I'm actually not complaining about it at all. My life is great! I'm sure our neighbors think, "I'm so glad I'm not doing my studies while I'm old like those people." But I feel like we are so lucky to be free to study still. We've just been experiencing different lifestyles in different places our whole married life together and I love it! I'm wondering what we'll do after this. But now we're here at UCLA. I've got two more kids than before and I feel like I've received a second chance to enjoy being with little people. My older three have grown up enough to go to school and I have a large chunk of time to pretend that I'm a mother of just two. Yes, most of my time is spent preparing for my family. Food preparation, laundry, and cleaning mainly. But other than those three things I get to fill my time with what I choose. I find that I am a lot happier if I force myself to go out of the house every day. I walk the kids to school in the morning and walk to pick them up but even doing that I try to get out at least for one other thing. Right now I take Hector and Helen to a little kids music class called Music Makers. I've just joined a Spanish playgroup that happens on Thursdays. And on Fridays I go out to do the weekly shopping which is really a huge ordeal. Two or three different stores and a huge amount of food. I'm exhausted after hauling all the groceries from my parking space up to my apartment on the third floor.
I'm just going on and on. LA has tons of things I want to see and get to know so I always have a place to explore whether I want to or not. My favorite place to go with Helen and Hector is the beach. It's been wonderful to watch them enjoy it. Our first time going to Santa Monica beach was exciting! The three older kids went straight for the water. Hector freaked out at the sound of the waves and wouldn't even go within 30 feet of the water. We had to force him. Helen didn't know what the noise was so she didn't get scared. She's so little that I think she's not scared of a lot of things. Babies are so open minded and also helpless. It's really quite sweet. I'd sit her down on the sand where the waves come up and as the water would move in on her quickly I'd watch her little body tense up as it got closer and closer. Of course I would lift her quickly before she got wet. Hector on the other hand needed a lot of coaxing and a lot of forcing. Jonathan is such a good father. He went to the effort to take him out to the water in his arms and showed him that he didn't have to be afraid. Of course, he freaked the whole time but with two other visits to the beach after that he got used to the idea that the beach is a place we would go to often whether he liked it or not. First, I showed him how important it was to have water by playing in the sand with a huge bucket of water. I'd invite him to refill the bucket with me. Nope. He wouldn't do it. But probably on our fourth time I invited him to run in the surf with me. Just running into the water a little bit and running out where the water was 1 or 2 inches deep. I held his hand and oh that was fun! Too fun because the water would fly into the air and splash on our legs. What fun! He eventually let go and ran next to me and then eventually ahead of me and then I was exhausted running after him. Then he began to run deeper into the water so that I had to be right by him so he wouldn't get pulled out into the ocean by the water that returned back towards the ocean. Finally one returning wave caught him and was a bit too deep for his little body. It knocked him down and he rolled a bit in the water and lost control of himself. I ran to snatch him back before he was gone. Whew! I think he understood that the ocean was stronger than him at that point. It's an important lesson for kids to learn. A respect for the strength of nature. I still had to watch him closely but when I said, "You're getting to far in!" I think he understood and came a little closer to me.
  For my birthday I bought myself an online subscription to JamPlay. I've played the guitar for years and have wanted to learn more for a long time but of course I've never made the time. I've always wanted to use my time to learn other things. Mostly sewing, knitting, smocking, quilting and crocheting. But as I get older I look at my hands. They are getting older too. I listen to older people complain about how they lose feeling in their fingers. Lack of movement. I love my hands. I play the piano as well. I realized that now is the time for me to enjoy these things. Not later. So I try to have a quick lesson every day. It's great!
  Another thing I did on my birthday was go to the beach. Jonathan wasn't going to be home until quite late which was unfortunate but what could be done? Nothing. If I wanted to do something, I had to do it on my own. So I dragged all the kids plus one Irish lad to Santa Monica beach. Of course, I had to listen to this rather open Irish lad tell me that he didn't like the sand nor the beach, to which I replied, "Buck up kid! It's my birthday and this is what we're doing!" We had a fun time! The tide was way out and there were hundreds of seagulls just sitting on the beach with their white chests puffing out. It was a windy day. Atticus ran at them which sent them flying in the air but they just landed again in the same spot. Cinci almost got bombed. Once we got down near the water life just became a lot easier. The kids all did their own thing. Even Eliot, the Irish lad. He took a stab at playing in the sand a wee bit. I was really pleasant for me not to have to settle disputes for a few hours. The lights on the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel lit up around 5. The sunset was gorgeous. "Like hot lava", the boys said. Cinci singled out a brown bird and chased it back and forth on the beach for about 20 minutes. He is just a delight to watch. He has bouncy hair and a bouncy run. He's the epitome of childhood. He's got freckles too. Gotta love that kid.
   Then after getting home and having the kids shower and eat dinner, Jonathan arrived. I then said, "Let's go to the Cheesecake Factory!" It was 7:45. Who cares! Bedtime? What's bedtime when your mom is turning 34? So we drove down and got a lovely seating outside by the Marina del Rey. I figured sitting outside with our rabble would be kinder to the other guests. We can get a bit loud. And we were, especially when Sherman broke out his best jokes. Here's one of them. Hector ordered the strawberry dessert from the kids menu and when they arrived Sherman said, "Hector has ordered the Strawberries of Troy!" followed by a loud peal of laughter from himself. A loud belly shaking laugh. Jonathan and I couldn't help but laugh too. That Sherman has an interesting sense of humor. And more laughter followed when we started talking about our favorite parts from the movie "A Christmas Story".
I had never been to the Cheesecake Factory in my life. Jonathan doesn't like cheesecake. That's probably why. Atticus and I enjoyed cheesecake. Atticus will always enjoy a decadent dessert no questions asked. We got shrimp and potstickers for appetizers because I hadn't fed the kids a huge meal at home. They downed those in a second. Then they all had dessert while Jonathan and I had meals. We took two pieces of cheesecake home. I'm glad I got a chance to go there. I didn't even want to know how much it cost us. It was a great end to a wonderfully exhausting day. And to top it off, Hector went poo in the potty twice and I didn't answer the phone once. Yay!


Sonja said...

This makes me miss you so much! Happy birthday, Christine! I wish I could have gone to the Cheesecake factory with you. :) Hooray for playing guitar! Your fingers have many many years of strumming left to do. Hooray for the beach and ocean and hooray for motherhood! It both ages us and keeps us young.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday young one. You tell wonderful stories. I am glad you are enjoying sunny CA. I miss that weather. I always loved the songs you made with your guitar. You are so talented. Do you remember the one you wrote about the car keys that got flushed down the toilet? the good old days:)
I'm glad you did something you wanted on your day. Happy Happy Birthday dear friend!