September 27, 2009

Little Bits O' Happiness

Even though I haven't been great at keeping up with the Oma's assignments. I find all her posts so inspirational! I enjoy her writing and her fun, positive outlook on life.

Friday was School of Thought Seminar: Life as an Artform

~Make a list of ten little things that improved your happiness today. (I used yesterday.)

1--The sound of giggling, squealing, crunching, popping as children running down a long hallway covered with packaging bubbles. A good friend did this for her daughter's 3rd birthday party. SO fun!
2--Amazing tap dancers at The Kitchen Block Party.
3--Two babes took great naps while we were out, so Bri and I had a peaceful lunch...of fresh lobster!!! From The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.
4--Taking photos of little kids at a birthday party.
5--Five straight hours of sleep. Thank you Oliver!
6--Having Brian by my side all day.
7--Walking around the city. Seriously, one of my favorite things to do, but rare now with two kids.
8--Watching/supervising Isabella make birthday cards for friends.
9--Falling asleep at 9:30pm.
10--Getting all the dishes done. (We don't have a dishwasher.)

September 23, 2009

Right Now

Gorilla gazing at the Bronx Zoo. Perfect morning at the zoo, all the
animals are out.

September 19, 2009

Right Now

Happened upon the 59th Annual German American Parade on 5th Ave.

September 15, 2009

Odense, Denmark

I'm a bit behind in posting for Oma's back-to-school, but I'm really loving everything I'm doing.

Here's the prompt for last week's travel lesson:

~Where is your ancestral home? Most of us have roots in several places. Pick one city or country you'd like to visit, find it on a map, and explore some travel websites, just for practice. A few of my favorites are: multi-map, Rick Steves, Cheap Flights, Budget Travel.

photo of Odense, Denmark from here

Hi, I'm Kiasa.
It's pronounced, k-'eye'-sa.
It's one of my ancestor's names, from Denmark.
It is spelled K-I-A-S-A...K-I-A-SA.

Well, that's what I always say (always!) when I meet someone new. But come to find out, just as I was doing some research for this, my name is actually a Swedish ancestor's name. For 30 years I've been telling people it's Danish, but it is Swedish!

I've always wanted to travel to Denmark. I know I'm part Swedish, Danish, Scottish, German and English, but Denmark has always called to me the most (probably because I thought my entire name, Kiasa Keri Larsen, was Danish). My dad informed me that my Danish roots came from a city called Odense (map). (Click here for pronunciation.) One time I even went on a date with a guy who spoke Danish fluently, and I was sure he was the one, just for that reason.

It has been so fun to look up information and photos of Odense, Denmark. It was the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson. My great-great grandfather is Christian Larsen and his father is Lars Anderson, so maybe Hans Christian Anderson is a cousin of sorts. It's a beautiful city (the 3rd largest in Denmark). The castle. And museums. Here's a nice article.

I loved this little bit of research. I've learned more of my ancestry and can't wait to visit Odense now!

September 14, 2009

Cute Photos of the Kiddos

She put this outfit on one evening after playing outside all day in jeans and a t-shirt. She said she wanted to wear something pretty.

I made this little outfit. It was one of those things I finished during the last few weeks of nesting and waiting for Oliver. Thanks Mom & Anika for all your help!

My New Do

Today, the fabulous Rubi Jones chopped of my hair--as instructed. I love it; so light, so free. I'll leave it straight a couple of days and then we'll see how it looks curly. I'm so excited for something new!

Oliver: 3 Months!

Brian and I still have that "out of the corner of my eye" moments with these baby dolls. Especially when they are found in Oliver's cradle or bouncy seat.

He smiles ALL-THE-TIME! That is, if you are making eye contact with him. Which presents a challenge when taking photos.

The joys of having an older sister.
"Oliver wearing a hat, to get married" she said with a big grin.

~Oliver loves to suck on his hands.
~He is super-duper ticklish; so much so that he giggles when I change his clothes.
~When he takes a bath he gets so excited that he kicks, kicks, kicks until water splashes on his face and he looks at me like, "what was that?!" I laugh, then he laughs and it starts all over again.
~He can capture the attention of a crowded subway. One older woman smiled at him, he laughed and at least 10 people chuckled. I teared up.
~He knows how to stare into my soul and soften my heart.
~It's hard to get anything done because I love to look at him and make him smile...because I'm sure he loves it too.

September 12, 2009

Going the Distance

Carrying my sweet, big boy Oliver for 41 weeks really took a lot out of me. (Remember this and this.) I feel so fortunate to have had a quick recovery and the summer to work on getting back into shape. I delivered him 3 months ago yesterday. (New photos soon!)

So today I ran in a race. I was afraid I might have been pushing too hard, but I did it and I feel GREAT! It was a 4 mile run in Central park and I finished in 36 min/4 sec. (My goal was 36 min!!!)

Below is a photo from May 2005, when I was in top physical condition. Brian, Spencer and I were on a 300 mile bike ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. I thought that ride was going to kill me, but I did it and I felt so strong. I actually think of this photo often as I'm running in the mornings.

I'm finally feeling strong again and I love it!

September 11, 2009

Right Now

Waiting for the bus WAY too long on a wet, chilly autumn day.

September 7, 2009

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

THE GOOD: I've been wearing pre-pregnancy pants for a week now. Even though they are really tight, they are zipped and buttoned!

THE BAD: My thick, luscious hair is falling out! It just started and it is everywhere!

THE GOOD & THE BAD (hopefully not the ugly): I'm getting my hair chopped off Thursday night. I have mixed feelings, but now that it's coming out in gobs I'm much more excited for a change. Right now, when I take the time to really do my hair (in my dreams!) it looks great, but that's a whole lot of hair and a whole lot of time! So, I'm hoping it gets done more often with shorter locks.

Back to School: Labor Day

Today is Creative Writing Monday. Oma's lesson: Write Away: Labor Day.

Prompt: Write a paragraph about your philosophy of work. Thought questions: Is work worthwhile for it's own sake, or does it have to have a monetary value? How are you teaching your kids to work? Did your parents make work fun or was it something to get finished before you could have fun?

After a few hours of mulling this over, while cleaning the house, this is what came out:

On New Year's Day I semi-jokingly told my sister-in-law, "I have two resolutions this year. One: have this baby. Two: stay sane." Trust me, of the two resolutions, pushing a 9 pound, 2 ounce baby out of my body was a piece of cake. Since that point of no return, there have been many moments sitting on the couch in a sleep deprived stupor. Fed newborn relaxed in my weary arms. Active toddler requiring, demanding, or sweetly seeking my whole attention. Three days of dishes rotting in the sink. The garbage overflowing with tiny, dirty diapers. The fridge empty.

I sit here, on the couch, in a sleep deprived stupor, drool on the corner of my lips, pitying myself, "Why can't I get all of this done?" "I'm so tired, I'm going to vomit." "All I want is a clean house." "Why won't Brian do more?" (Because a husband who works full-time, does the dishes, bounces newborn and entertains toddler is, clearly, not enough for my irrational sleep deprived mood.) Just as my pity party really starts to pick up I remember what a wise man once told me, "Forget yourself and go to work."

My hesitant thighs lift my heavy body from the well molded cushions. I place Oliver in his bouncy seat, eying him a moment, making sure he won't fuss. I browse through iTunes deciding on It's a Hard Knock Life. Not because it's great pity party music (although it definitely fits the bill), but because it's Isabella's favorite dancing song, and if I put it on repeat it should keep her busy, bouncing up and down, for a good 15 minutes. I rush to the kitchen sink, slide on my favorite pink dish gloves, turn on the steaming tap water and start scrubbing. What seems like moments later, with sweat dripping down my brow and soap bubbles filling the sink I am singing, "You'll stay up 'til this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!" Thoughts of my life, my family, and my ability to work fills my uplifted heart with joy. Tears blur my vision as I watch my smiling Isabella bounce up and down, between the mountains of laundry.

**If you want to help edit my work, I'd love some feedback on this one. Please e-mail me with any editing suggestions.

Back to School: Be Real

Friday's class is "Discovering Your Personal Philisophy". Last Friday's lesson: School of Thought: Be Real. I had a bit of difficulty deciding what to write, so I just took Oma's prompt and went with it. (Note: this is not an attempt at creative writing--which is on Mondays. Just self exploration.)

And, just as a FYI, Thursday's class is "Home & Family Relations", this week's lesson: Family Matters: Love being Green. Since it was a very personal assignment I did not post my "homework" on the blog.

Prompt: As a trusted mentor, write a letter advising yourself what to do about a current situation in your life. Prompt: "Dear Friend, I know you're worried about ____. Knowing you like I do, I'm sure you feel____, but I trust your instincts. You seem so____.

Dear Friend, I know you are worried about juggling all that is required of you right now. Knowing you like I do, I'm sure you feel overwhelmed and tired, but I trust your instincts. You seem so willing to become the best mom for your children. Take a deep breath--or better, 10 deep breaths--when you feel like you might burst. The moment will pass, the children will be happy again, and Brian will tell you how much he loves and adores you. The babes will only be babes this one time, the laundry will get done, the kitchen doesn't always need to be clean and it is okay to sit down and do nothing sometimes. Nap daily, prioritize, play with the kids. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed because you don't function well. When you feel overwhelmed nothing gets done and you feel frustrated. It's a viscous cycle: prevent it!

Remember what makes you feel good. Running,'re on that and doing great! on that. Go to bed once both kids are asleep. You can catch up on movies later. Hold Isabella, read to her, hug her, and tell her how important and wonderful she is. Be patient with her; it will strengthen your relationship. Keep Oliver smiling and happy, it's so easy. Laugh with him, those are the sweet moments you will always remember. Remember to take quiet moments for yourself. Reflect and meditate for a moment while the kids are asleep or content in their activities. Fill each day with gentle, sweet moments. Remember, you can do this! These beautiful children are why you are here! They are what life today, and for eternity, is all about!

September 6, 2009

Right Now

Watching my adorable little boy. He's beginning to stir, preparing for
a day full of cuddling, laughing, and pooping. This little dude fills
my heart with unexpressable joy.

September 5, 2009

Right Now

Playing in the fountain at Wasington Square Park. Getting all our
fountain play in before it gets cold.

September 3, 2009

September 2, 2009

World View

At the top of Notre Dame, Paris

Tuesdays at TravelinOma's "Back to School" are dedicated to travel, this week's assignment:

How has travel changed you? Prompt: After I went to ____, I felt differently about ___.

Almost all of our travel has revolved around visiting family, but for a few years, way back when, we saved and saved and somehow scored the greatest flight deal ever. Soon after 9/11 American Airlines offered a sweet deal: travel twice between New York and California or Florida and you received a free flight anywhere in the world. We contemplated Australia or Brazil, but settled on a less exotic, but still adventuresome Europe. Specifically Paris and Italy--for a month. Other than going to Canada twice (just over the border) it's the only time I've left the US.

It was a fabulous trip; we had a great time, ate the most delicious food, and saw some amazing sights. But I will always remember two instances that really changed my perception of my own country and my immature view of the rest of the world. When we rented an apartment for a week on the island Ischia we stopped by a tiny market to pick up some groceries. The woman running the store was sweet and wonderful. She did her best to help us purchase what we thought we needed. A couple of locals wandered in and out. A short, old man, wearing a fedora, smiled at me and asked, "Bush or Kerry?" I was pleasantly surprised that someone on an island out in the Mediterranean knew as much--possibly more, looking back--about the elections being held in my country. I had no idea who the president of Italy was! I don't think I knew who the president was of any country--except my own. But this happy old man did. It was humbling.

The second instance was when we were staying a couple of nights in Amalfi. One morning as Brian showered I watched a BBC special on television. They were featuring a story on North Korea and their hatred toward the US. This was one of those exclusive interviews, "never seen before footage" sorts of stories. I knew North Korea despised America, but goodness! Young children at school reciting, in unison, hateful rote. Billboards claiming all Americans must die. The hatred so deep, so thick, so impenetrable. It was a real eye opener for me. I learned a lot during my travels that month and I'm the better for it.

September 1, 2009

The C Train

I guess yesterday's writing exercise got my writing juices flowing. I woke up at 3:30am, aching with an abundant food supply for little Oliver who slept 8 hours (woohoo!) when he usually wakes and eats every three hours. Since I couldn't sleep, I wrote. Within a couple hours of practicing this is what came out:

The man, his dog & the C train.

As the downtown C train screeched to a stop at 59th Street the masses on the platform crowded at each set of doors; waiting. The steel doors slid open smoothly. People rushed in, playing musical chairs with the few remaining seats. A baby-face, gray-haired man slowly stepped in, a leather leash in his left hand, attached to a calm black lab. "BING-BONG" The door slid shut. The calm black lab on the platform, the baby-face, gray-haired man inside the train, the leather leash clamped tight in the unforgiving subway doors. We all gasped. Someone yelled, "Where's the emergency brake?!" The baby-face, gray-haired man was suddenly pail. His eyes frightened and powerless. He avoided our searching eyes and was completely silent. His Adam's apple swallowed heavy and nervous. The train lurched forward, the people on the platform yelled at the conductor, without success. We watched in horror as the baby-face, gray-haired man tugged on the leash. Surprisingly, he pulled it all the way in. We signed a breath of relief. Fortunately, someone on the platform was quick to act when he noticed the possible plight of the calm black lab and removed the leash from the unsuspecting dog. Fortunately, it all went down at an express stop where there were plenty of helpful observers on the platform, waiting for their respective trains. Fortunately, I did not have to watch a baby-face, gray-haired man loose his companion on my commute that day.

Within a month after moving to the city, before I had a child, Brian showed me a YouTube video of stroller being dragged by a train along a platform, its tire stuck in the subway door. The baby, luckily, was rescued from the stroller before the train entered the narrow, dark tunnel. I've witnessed groups of friends being separated by the quick closing doors. Once a child got on the train while her family was one step behind. Fortunately, that time the doors were forgiving (opened again after closing) and the whole family made it inside. As I travel daily with toddler in hand I remember, I fear, and I hold that tiny hand as tight as any knowing mother would.

Recently the uptown C train did not make its usual local stops; it went express from 59th Street to 125th Street. As the train rushed passed the 81st Street stop (The American Museum of Natural History) all the wide-eyed tourists whipped out their maps and chatted in their native languages (80% of the people on the train). Locals helped calm the anxious tourists and gave directions on how to get back. When we finally arrived at the 125th Street stop everyone dashed out of the train, hoping to catch the next downtown local train and get back to the museum. I decided to avoid the trampling herd and graciously waited. Newborn strapped to my front, toddler clamped in hand. Guiding my toddler in front of me, the doors closed, tight on my wrist. My toddler was on the platform; I was the frightened, powerless mother stuck inside the train, completely freaking out! In less than a heartbeat, a group of young men wrapped their big fingers into the doors and muscled them open, releasing me from my prison. Feeling nauseous, my mind raced as all mothers' do, "What if...?" "How would I...?" Fortunately it all went down at an express stop where there were plenty of helpful young men so I did not loose my most precious companion on our commute that day.

**Per Brian's concern for loved ones reading, the incident was not as scary and dramatic as it sounds. If you are not familiar with NYC subways, the train would not have moved as long and my arm was in the door. In reality, the whole thing lasted less than a second. Isabella has ridden the subway hundreds of times in her short life and this has been our only "close call". This might be considered similar to you barely avoiding a car collision in your daily travels.
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