Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Images from Joburg


Thank you for the nice comments and messages in response to my last post.  Although I still struggle with finding time to be in this space, I do want to continue this documentation.  I'm thankful for the support of this small blogging community.

And so:

I spent about a week in Johannesburg, South Africa in early February.  It was the first time I was away from Madeleine.  I felt guilty being away from her.  But despite the lingering guilt, that trip was really good for me.  In addition to providing me the best sleep I have had in the past 9.5 months, that trip also gave me an opportunity to be around incredible advocates from all over the world, strategizing, plotting and drawing links between our work.  My heart was on fire.  I was reminded of how the work I am doing from DC fits into the bigger picture. 

That trip also forced me to accept that being outside and working outside of DC is a necessity for me.  There is a lot to enjoy about our lives in DC.  I am conscious of the many things, all the small pleasures associated with daily life, that I would miss.  But I feel just as strongly as I did two years ago, when I first moved: I don't want to settle here - we don't want to settle here.  I want to be back working in Asia.  Since Johannesburg, there have been opportunities presented that would allow my family to move back abroad.  I don't intend to make a move in near future, but Ethan and I are looking ahead. (And that is a reminder to myself as to why I keep this space anonymous!)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Portland recap and this space




Well, hello.  I haven't checked into this space in a while. It's not for lack of trying, but I admit it has been a struggle to keep up this work-life-baby balance.  Most days, I prioritize any extra minutes of sleep I can sneak in.

Briefly, since last time, there's been a lot of just daily life, a trip to Portland (evidence above) and even a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.

There's so much I want to write in this space.  At the same time, I've often thought about shutting down this blog.  I started it nearly five years ago, at a time when I thought it was important to document the mental and emotional preparation for a big move abroad.  And I'm so glad I did.  Blogging forced me to take stock of both the small and big moments in the past five years, colors, shapes and emotions I would have strained to remember today.  Through this space, I can remember what it felt like the first day I stepped foot in Phnom Penh, the cacophony of motorbikes, and the gravity of the idea, slowly settling on me, that this dusty city would be my home. I can recall the first moments I realized I loved this strange international human rights thing - that feeling of having my heart on fire; the crescendo of emotion when I realized I fell in love with Ethan; our travels; our moves to Thailand and eventually back Stateside.

But I've been in DC for nearly two years!  How?!  And I'm not often inspired to document life here. Hah. That sounds horrible but it's the truth.

That's not entirely true. I am inspired to document M's life and motherhood, as I stumble along.  I wonder, though, if this is the place to do it.  Shouldn't I avoid pictures of her (like the one above) in the public domain?  Does this make me a bad mother? I joke, but I'm somewhat serious.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The sun


We took M to Los Angeles (and Portland) for a three-week holiday.  I'm still thinking of the time spent with my family in California, the sunshine, the ocean, the tamale-filled festivities.  One day, while staying at my sister's house, we walked to the neighborhood pokÄ“ restaurant.  It was a breezy 80 degree day, in late December.  I stared up at the towering palm trees and my thoughts swirled around how cold it must be in DC.

I always enjoy time with family but, with M now in our lives, those interactions take on another level of meaning for me (sorry if that sounds blow-hardy).  I'm starting to wonder if I would be fine with my daughter seeing her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents -- in many ways, her (and my) cultural anchors - once or twice a year tops.  I'm not so sure.  Yet, I'm not exactly ready to move back to California either.

There are other things I'm thinking about, some more frivolous than others, but someone is calling for me.

And my time is up.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Documenting a walk (drive): An afternoon in B'more


A few weekends ago, we drove up to Baltimore to visit Stu, who hadn't yet met Madeleine.  We brunched at Woodberry Kitchen, a cavernous space in a renovated mill.  I was not disappointed - it lived up to the hype. It was also such a baby-friendly restaurant, which seems like a rarity these days, at least in this country.  We then enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee at Artifact before driving back to the city.  M is a fairly happy baby, particularly in the morning, but her temperament and level of patience take a sharp decline as we edge toward early evening. We squeeze in all the roaming around, errands and coffee dates in the mornings and early afternoons.  It helps keep me sane.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Recent acquisitions: Embracing mom pants



Earlier in the year, I committed to listing out monthly acquisitions - if only to hold myself accountable and to curb spending habits.  

I failed.  I haven't listed anything in months, even though I have been fairly active with internet purchases. I should have known that pregnancy and post-pregnancy would do a number on my spending - with my changing body shape, pre and post-partum hormones shifts and late nights/early mornings spent comforting an infant, I was bound to make a few irrational internet purchases.  I'm not going to list every single purchase here. That would be far too embarrassing.

But I will say that my purchases of late have been spurred on by my realization that my too-precious silk numbers aren't going to work, at least for now.
  • I've wholeheartedly jumped on the Ace & wagon.  It's funny.  I first heard of Ace & Jig when I still lived in Cambodia and back then I could not justify the prices, not when I could make linen/cotton shift dresses in Russian Market. In retrospect and objectively, my gut instinct was probably right. But when I finally purchased a piece, I realized how beautiful the textiles were and how wearable. I was sucked into the hype. These pieces aren't cheap, however, and I don't see them becoming more affordable in light of the the growing cult following, particularly from moms. Bottomline: I need to ease up.   
  • For the last year I've also been itching for a new pant silhouette.  Can you believe I've been wearing skinny jeans for over 10 years? While I still wear a black skinny jean regularly, I also welcomed two pairs of slouchy Black Crane pants into my rotation. I must say I'm loving the elastic waist and looser fit. I wear the quilt pants at least two times a week. I also own the carpenter pants in olive, but that pair doesn't get as much use.
  • As for shoes, I rotate between three pairs of boots: the Rachel Comey Mars (for days I don't intend to walk very far); the Dieppa Restrepo Mer boots; and the IM Dicker boots, a "maternity" purchase from last year.  To my credit, these are not new purchases.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving holiday


I realize I use this space to whine about some of the realities of motherhood.  Today, I'm thinking about how tired I am, how I'm still not sleeping well, how I don't quite fit into my old clothes, and how postpartum hair loss is horrible, if not scary.

I think it throws friends when they ask me how I am doing and I launch into my grievances.  I see the look on their faces. But that is what's going on, dear friends.  Yes, I love my daughter, fiercely. Her smiles make me forget (for a while) some of the difficulties of motherhood.  And life is richer, in ways I didn't understand before.

But I'm not one to sugarcoat things and some days I surprise myself with my ability to get out of bed, get dressed and pretend to be functional, maybe even mildly coherent.  Today was not one of those days. I stayed at home in my pajamas while taking conference calls.

This post was about Thanksgiving in Colorado: There was snow and family. I didn't bring my work computer. I didn't think about human rights or the uphill battle we face. It was great.  And, speaking of M's smiles, here's one that melts my heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A year later



My little sister (above) flew out yesterday, after spending two weeks with us.  Tomorrow, M takes her first flight, to Colorado, where she will be surrounded by more family -- hopefully I can catch up on well-needed sleep and finally get over this nagging cough.

There's so much to be thankful for this year.  Last Thanksgiving holiday was a difficult one.  I alluded to many things, but never really wrote about everything.  In addition to my aunt's sudden death and some upheaval at work, this time last year I discovered I was pregnant, only to suffer what I believed to be an unequivocal miscarriage mere days after my discovery.  I was devastated.  I remember flying out to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving that day and how the airport seemed to swarm with babies.  Once in Wisconsin I remember confiding in Ethan's grandmother Megan, a petite woman who, with her steely eyes, sternly told me that this would pass, that women dig deep to find the strength to keep trying.

Well, a few delayed doctor appointments (and a few weeks of sickness) later, I discovered that I was, in fact, still pregnant.  

I didn't write about it then because it felt too close.  I carried it with me, even through the pregnancy, a little secret, a nagging fear.  But I've always tried to be honest in this space.

So it's crazy that a year later I will be flying with my little squishy daughter.  Motherhood is difficult, but I am so grateful for the presence of her in my life, and for the love of my incredible family and friends.
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