Saturday, August 30, 2008

A lot has happened lately

Marcos and I started school last week, and it's been cranial jelly again for the first time in forever. Oh the joys of being full-time students.

My main source of jelly is not my classes though, it's my internship. I have been working three days a week at the Exchange Club's Family Center in Durham, and so far it's been 100% drinking-from-a-firehose type training. Today by the time 5pm rolled around, the other intern Michelle (who is also my friend) and I were hysterically laughing at ourselves because our eyes had glazed over and we had lost much of our frontal lobe functioning. What a week!

But it is soooo worth it! I have been learning the ins and outs of a research-based parenting therapy for at-risk families (meaning, at risk for abuse because of high stress, poverty, young age of parents, etc.), called Parent Child Interaction Therapy. When I'm fully trained, I will visit the homes of families in Durham County, and teach parents how to bond with their children through play therapy, as well as teach parents norms and milestones of child development, and healthy discipline strategies. It is a great, intuitive program, and I am really excited to go into homes and tell struggling parents about programs that have proven to be effective. Sometimes I joke that my job is all about the blind leading the blind because I am not a parent, but after 40 hours of training, extensive supervision, and ten video-taped sessions I plan on feeling really comfortable with the model and how to teach it.

The best part? I have already been using the strategies we are learning. Marcos and I babysat last night for our friends who have a nearly 2-year old, and I invested in toys for the occasion. I practiced my play time with the little one, and she ate it up even though she's not yet fully verbal. I think that in the future I'll put some parenting tips in my entries... I would be interested to hear feedback on whether the principles of the program seem obvious to you who are parents, or if some of it seems insightful and different...


Guys, it's happening again. I'm suffering from blogging anxiety. My problem is that lately I've discovered some blogs that I really like, and I've been feeling like a deer in the headlights again, trapped by my own perfectionism and the desire to make cool entries. But I'm over it (for tonight at least). Here. Blah. There, I made an ugly word, and I'm still around to tell the story.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Humble Home

Tonight we visited new friends in their new home in Chapel Hill. It was a bit shocking, really: a young couple just a little bit older than us, with a really, really nice home. It was complete with new furniture - leather, and dark wood, and mirrors - the really nice kind that makes you ooooh and aaaah in the catalogues. I wanted to go around touching everything and saying, "this is so pretty, and this... and this..." but I tried to put on my I'm-not-shocked face instead, so that they wouldn't suspect that my home looks much different.

But it does. What is my newest addition? A (very clean) bulletin board I salvaged from a dumpster, covered with a cloth I sewed out of colorful fabric scraps, over which we are pinning up our favorite family photos with thumb tacks shaped like stars. Schick.

On the way home I was feeling a little insecure and said, "Marcos I don't even know if I could have them over. Our apartment is so.... simple". He just looked at me and said with some disappointment in his voice, "Don't ever say that. We should never worry about those things when it comes to inviting people to our house". He is totally right, and I'm trying to get the logic to translate over to my honest feelings about the issue. I have to remind myself that we're all at different chapters of life, and having a home with a good spirit is accessible to all people. What's more, hosting is a dying art, and maybe it's all of this Keeping Up With the Joneses stuff is what is getting in the way of us being the most friendly people in history!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beach + Photoshop = swoon-worthy eye candy

I am so swooning. Last week, Marcos and I took a little day trip with our friends Zumrad, Ubek, Kodir and Tanya (all originally from Uzbekistan) to a North Carolina beach. The closest beach to Chapel Hill is about three hours away, so although it's not just around the corner, it is great being within day-trip distance of salt water and waves!

We ate, and we swam, and we took the boogie boards out, and we acquired sunburns, and we ate more and swam more, and took a cat nap in the sand (hence the sunburns). What a purely blissful summer day.

And then magic happened. Nicole and I sat down a few nights later, and she went crazy on a few of my favorite photos from the beach adventure. What skill! What craftmanship! What works of art! I am in the process of learning the intricacies of Adobe Photoshop, but don't hold your breath, folks, it may be a few decades before I can turn out such coolness as Nicole has created.

Marcos, Ubek, and Zumrad. The "okay on the count of three, jump!" idea didn't work quite as well as Marcos hoped, but I still love the picture, and the climbing bodies effect...

Zumrad is pregnant, and Ubek is a happy daddy-to-be. My favorite part of the photo? The "b" around Zumrad's piko...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Make me better, Pixar!

I have to admit it: Ratatouille is one of my most inspirational movies of late. A few days ago I was in a funk, so to cheer me up, Marcos put on Ratatouille while we were eating dinner. We rarely do this, but it is a nice treat every once in a while. Pause there, fast forward two days.

Yesterday I was in the kitchen, making lasagna for the first time in a decade or so, and lines from the movie kept coming back into my mind: "Shoulders in! Keep your area clean! The mark of a good chef is clean sleeves and a dirty apron!". My chopping skills weren't nearly as quick as Linguini becomes in the movie, but I was totally inspired to make good food. That "anyone can cook" phrase was my mantra as I pranced around our tiny kitchen, throwing in herbs, chopping onions, mixing spinach and ricotta and seasoning my browning beef. I almost felt the veggies flying in perfect arches through the air, and the aroma was exquisite....

In the end, the lasagna wasn't actually as amazing as I was hoping it would be, but the eaters were heavy on the compliments, and gave suggestions for how to make it better next time. Favorite lesson learned from Ratatouille: Keep your area clean! It was so much easier to clean up in the end, because I had cleaned as I cooked!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fridays on the Front Porch

In central Chapel Hill, fairly close to the center of UNC Campus, is the old Carolina Inn. Every Friday evening during the summer and fall months the Inn hosts "Fridays on the Front Porch", which is a shout out to bluegrass music. Each week different bands appear in the side yard of the Carolina Inn, and play free concerts for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing.

Last week, we took advantage of the local perks and went with our friends first to the bluegrass concert, and then to the outdoor cinema to see "Kung Fu Panda" on the grass after dusk. Imagine sticky summer evening weather on a grassy hill enveloped in a haze of arosol bug repellent. Add ice-cream, melting. Yes, and a large screen. Awwwww yah!

Marcos in Macro Mode (M cubed) again. There is a space in front of the makeshift stage that is always grass covered with hay, for people to stomp on when they dance. Usually the kids get up there first, and the braver of the adults take lead from their lack of embarrassment... This picture is great because the musicians are in the background with the outline of one of the Inn wings behind them.

Marcos with little Kinsey Hill, the daughter of our new friends. (See below for more pictures... yes, she was the model in my adventures in child photography...).

The Hills. Jason just started his Masters degree at the School of Social Work, and we will even be in classes together this fall! Yes!

Kinsey and the Band.

Nick and Nicole. We'll have to do a blog entry later about them. Just about them.

Being with kid-os always give one the privilege of eating Goldfish crackers at any ol' time.