Self-Fulfilling Goals

I did it. I completed my January goal.  I started a pre-med program.  What? You thought my January goal was to finish a book?  Oh that.  Well, this is how January went: I became a full time student, and then we got the flu…and then we got the flu again…and then we got a stomach bug.  So I did not finish the book in January.

However I said from the start that I reserved the right to do some shuffling. So as January drew to a close and I realized I wasn’t going to make it, I sifted through my goal list to see if there was anything I could quickly do and mark off my list.  It turns out you can’t retroactively go to the gym (or stop eating meat), so I picked December to make the switch with one minor change: Finish Start Pre-Med Program.  In my opinion, that was plenty of accomplishment for January.10255633_s

January’s goal now belongs to February, and February’s goal to December.  And this time, I mean business.  If I don’t finish (emphasis on the “ish”) this book in February, [insert some drastic ultimatum here.]  Well, I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t finish, because I plan to finish.  But feel free to think up horrible consequences to motivate me.



This is our bed.

Did I shove all the laundry out of the way to take this picture? Yes. Yes I did.

Did I shove all the laundry out of the way to take this picture? Yes. Yes I did.

When I say “our”, I mean mine, Yohannes’s, Nati’s and Lily’s.  In fact, the crib and toddler bed are really just ornamental.  No one actually sleeps in those. I usually avoid describing our sleeping situation to others because I’m afraid my spare-the-rod friends will think I’m a crazy hippy, and then my crazy hippy friends will be offended that I called them crazy hippies, and I’ll suddenly find myself all alone in the world…but here goes:

I’ve moved! Read the full post here.

Project 2013

Inspired by Motley Mama 2012, I will be setting a goal for each month of this year.  It’s a little bit of a cop-out for me, because I just happened to be thinking about how busy this year will be when I read her post about how several other people are making lists for 2013.  I decided to jump on the bandwagon because bandwagons are fun.  (Disclaimer: Some monthly goals may need to be shuffled as the year progresses.  Also, if I fail miserably, I may delete this post and deny that it ever existed.)

This little light of mine...

This little light of mine…

January: Finish a Book

At the end of 2009, my dad asked me to help him write his story.  We have been working on it for over 3 years now, and it has been a slow process with many hiatuses (my fault).  If I really buckle down, I think we can finish it this month.  (Disclaimer: I’m hoping for a rough draft ready to be edited. I don’t expect to have a finished product by the end of the month.)

February: Go to the Gym Everyday

One of my Christmas presents from Yohannes was a gym membership. (Don’t worry, I asked him for it.)  I have started going, but I’m hoping a month long stretch will help me make a habit of it.  (Disclaimer: When I say “every day”, I mean at least 5 days a week.  Chances are that I will have to skip it once or twice a week.)

March: No Meat

I will go vegetarian for one month.  Not vegan, because I drink about a half gallon of milk a day. (Disclaimer: I will accept food that is set before me in other people’s homes, even if it contains meat.)

April: No Facebook

I am not quite bold enough to drop off the face of the internet for a month, but I will try to go a month without Facebook.  (Disclaimer: I might set up the blog to auto-post to Facebook.)

May: Be On Time

I want to make an extra effort to be on time in May. (Disclaimer: I am married to Yohannes, so…)

June: Write a Post about Anxiety

This one has been a long time coming. (Disclaimer: I have no idea what this post will say.)

July: Move

Yohannes got a new job in Allentown in November.  We bought our house in Lancaster in 2010 using the housing stimulus, so we have to be here until the end of June.  (Disclaimer: The earliest we will move would be July, but it will likely be later in the year.  This month’s goal will probably get shuffled.)

August: Practice Guitar Everyday

I love to sing, but some songs just don’t sound right a capella.  I very briefly took guitar lessons last year, and I want to continue practicing. (Disclaimer: “Everyday” means at least 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day.)

September: Control My Temper

If you’re not part of my family, you probably didn’t know I had a bad temper.  It gets the better of me sometimes, and I would like to practice controlling it better.  It’s weird to list it as a goal for one month, but sometimes a kick-start helps. (Disclaimer: Absolutely no way am I going to go a month without losing my temper.)

October: Join a Writers Group

There are a couple writers groups around Allentown.  I’ve always wanted to join one, just to get some constructive advice about the writing process, but I’ve never had the courage to follow through. (Disclaimer: If the people are mean or scary, I will never go back.)

November: Write a Book

I’m going to jump on yet another bandwagon and try to make some progress on a book of my own during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  (Disclaimer: I have no idea how much of a novel I will actually be able to write in a month.)

December: Finish Pre-Med Program

I just started a pre-med program through Penn State Brandywine. That’s right. I am currently a full-time student.  The program will finish in December.   (Disclaimer: No, I don’t know what I’m getting myself in for.  I’m sure I’ll find out.)


Dear blog,

December has been busy. Sorry I neglected you.  How about some Christmas tree decorating tips to save a little time next year?

Step 1: Put up Christmas tree.

Step 2: Carefully string lights on tree.

Step 3: Plug in lights only to find that they don’t work.

Step 4: Wish you would have done steps 2 and 3 in a different order.

Step 5: Unstring lights, check for broken light, growl in frustration, throw away lights, buy new lights, restring lights on tree.

My side of the family decided to make homemade gifts this year. It’s fun to make homemade gifts for Christmas.  The best part is that you  have to get to stay up all night on Christmas Eve to get them done, just like Santa. Speaking of Santa, what do you do when you realize your child actually believes in Santa?  I don’t remember ever believing in Santa.

Christmas morning was lovely.

Nati, Christmas 2012

Nati, Christmas 2012

Lily, Christmas 2012

Lily, Christmas 2012

If only the camera hadn’t stopped working after the first two pictures.

Now it’s New Year’s Eve.  I’ll be using tonight to rest and remember the year fondly.  2013 looks to be brimming with changes, but more on that later. Happy New Year, everyone!

Lily: 1 Year

Dear Lily,

we are so happy to have you.

Love, Mama, Dada, and Nati

Lessons in Parenting #2: Putting Your Foot Down

We’ve all heard plenty of advice from parenting books, weather we read them ourselves our had them quoted to us by some fanatic.   It seems like the holy grail of parenting advice is to be consistent.  I guess I thought it meant, “I am consistently not a push-over,” or “I am consistently the boss of you,” because I always associated that phrase with laying down ultimatums and putting my foot down.

I have since learned that the exact opposite is true.  If you want to be consistent (follow through on what you say,) then don’t ever put your foot down ever.  The reason for this is quite simple: In all likelihood, your child can put their foot down harder than you can.



You say, “Child, you are not getting up from that table until you finish your food.”  Now who is responsible to enforce that  ultimatum?  You are, you stupidhead poor lost soul.  If you want to be consistent you are going to have to make sure that your child stays at the table until they finish that food.  Should I tell you a secret? The child doesn’t want that food.  The child will not eat that food.  At 10:00 p.m. they will be asleep with their face in a pile of spaghetti, and you will have missed that precious hour you are supposed to have to yourself between putting the kids to bed and passing out from exhaustion.  (Thankfully, this exact scenario has yet to happen.) The battle is over and they’ve won, because you can’t teach anyone a lesson when they’re asleep.  Taking a hard line in other situations is often just as futile.  For example, saying, “Stop crying,” or, “Go to sleep,” in a firm tone of voice is successful approximately 0% of the time.

Next time, try saying something like: “Now I see you haven’t finished all of the food that I labored to put on your plate.  I’d like you to finish it, but I’m a reasonable human being.  Let’s negotiate. I’ll let you get off with two more bites if you promise not to wake up before 6 a.m.  Deal?”

In conclusion, try not to say anything you’ll later regret if your child turns out to have a stronger resolve than you do.  In most cases, putting your foot down really is going  to hurt you more than it hurts them.

Chicken Craps

I’ve always hated group projects.  Feel free to judge me on that character flaw.  When I was in middle school working on one such group project, I freaked out when someone started to color the dog on our poster purple.   Come on, people.  Have you ever seen a purple dog?  I also got a little annoyed when people put the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order.  ROY G BIV.  It’s not that hard.  So it was a running joke that my poor future children would be traumatized when I criticized their art.

I guess I’ve kept that side of myself pretty well locked down…until last week.  On Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving I was at my parents’ church with the kids.  Nati made this:

Turkey Craft

Nati: “Look! I made a chicken!”

Me: “Wow! I’m so proud of you! But I think maybe it’s a turkey.”

Nati: “Yeah.  Miss Cheri is a good teacher.  She shows us how to make craps.”

Me: “Crafts.”

Nati: “I like making craps.”

Me: “You mean crafts.”

Nati: “I want to show everybody my chicken. They’ll be so proud of me!”

Me: “Yes they will…but it’s a turkey.”

I guess I’ll have to work on taming that beast to spare my budding artist.

When we got home that night, Yohannes was inexplicably watching Spy Kids 3-D.  Towards the end of the movie, a computer animated flying pig showed up, presumably from one of the previous movies.

Nati looked wide eyed at the TV and said, “Whoa! A flying pig! I never knew that pigs could fly!”

Clearly this is why you are not supposed to let toddlers watch TV.  Shame on us. For those of you who are similarly flawed and allow your children to watch Dora, here is a little treat that my brother-in-law Pierce showed me on Thanksgiving:

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving with turkeys and crafts.

Lessons in Parenting #1: How to Put Down a Sleeping Baby (without waking them up)

Now that I am a seasoned* mother, I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the important things I have learned.  I know that I would have benefited from some of this information and I hope that I can be a help and inspiration to others as well.

I’ve moved! Read the full post here.


I Voted

I voted today.  If you think I made a bad decision (by voting or because of who I voted for) I hope we can still be friends.

More importantly, I ate this giant bowl of cereal for breakfast:


Nati said he wanted cereal. I thought, Cereal sounds good. I’ll get some for myself too.  I poured two bowls of cereal…with milk.

Nati saw the milk and said, “Cereal without milk!”

I felt that the mistake was partly mine. It’s important to always ask your toddler for detailed instructions on how to prepare their food.  So I poured his cereal into my bowl, rinsed and dried his bowl, and poured him cereal without milk.

Nati looked down at his fresh bowl of dry cereal and then over at mine.  He handed it back and said, “I want milk in my cereal, just like you.”

This child…

Also, pictures of our Halloween pumpkin, which wasn’t stolen! Yay!

It’s a kitten, not just some weird, mutilated pumpkin.

See? A kitten.

Our First Halloween

Yesterday we celebrated our first Halloween. Growing up we didn’t do it.  The most obvious reason is probably that we lived in the middle of the bush in Kenya.  But even when we were in the States, we didn’t, I think because of concerns about pagan holidays or something like that.  I’ve since learned that Christmas and Easter also used to be pagan holidays, so I’m over it.  Nevertheless, we always bought a giant bucket of candy for the “trick-or-treaters”.  And there were never any trick-or-treaters because we lived at the end of a mile long lane, so we got to eat all the candy ourselves.

To be honest, I hadn’t really thought I would celebrate Halloween with my kids either until a few weeks ago when Nati said, “Halloween is when you dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating and people give you candy!”  Well, I wish Yohannes wouldn’t have told him that, I thought.

A few days later while I was away, Nati said the same thing to Yohannes and the babysitter.  Yohannes said, “I kind of wish Esther hadn’t told him that.”  The babysitter said, “Me too.”

It turns out Caillou was the culprit.  He always is.  So yesterday we went to the store, bought a bunch of candy for the trick-or-treaters, and a tiger hat for Nati.  I thought the tiger hat would be enough, but he kept asking where his costume was, so we improvised.  The tiger toga isn’t my best work, but it was the best I could do in 15 minutes.

Preppy Tarzan Tiger?

My plan was to just sit on the porch and pass out candy, but our porch light was broken.  Since no one would come to a house without a porch light, I thought I’d just take Nati trick-or-treating around to our neighbors.  But only one neighbor was doing it, so we ended up walking a few blocks, and that’s how we inadvertently celebrated our first real Halloween.  Nati would say, “Trick or treat!” and try to give people the candy in his bucket.  Lily was just along for the ride.

Lily Bunny

Spoils of war.

It was kind of fun to see all the people in the community out and about and interacting with each other.  Afterwards we came inside, ate candy and carved a pumpkin.  Actually, the kids watched a movie while I carved a pumpkin.  Not a bad day.