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Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to take Turner to his preschool on the bus. The day before I had unfortunately gotten a flat tire on our brand new minivan after picking up the kids from school. It wasn’t fun having to sit at the gas station for an hour with 3 kids waiting for roadside assistance, but with the car’s DVD player and the one granola bar I managed to find in my bag, we somehow made it through.

So anyways, Larry wanted to take the car in to the dealer early in the morning so he wouldn’t have to deal with waiting in line, which meant I would be car-less for morning school drop offs. I borrowed a car from a friend to take Christopher to his carpool ride and then decided I would take Turner to school on the bus so that I could go straight to the car dealer afterwards to retrieve our car. Turner couldn’t be more excited to go on the big public bus. For the first few weeks of school he would look longingly at the yellow school buses parked in front and always ask me if he would get to go on them. Berkeley public transit may not be the same as a yellow school bus, but in the eyes of a 3 year old, it’s just as exciting.

We walked the couple of blocks from our house to the bus stop and waited for only about 5 minutes before our bus pulled up. I instructed Turner before getting on that he should say “Good morning” to the driver, and he did just that as we ascended the steps. I asked him where he wanted to sit, and he said, “in the caboose!” so we marched to the back of the bus and plunked down in two empty seats by the window. As the bus pulled away and as we watched the streets of the city flash past us, I was suddenly transported back to my childhood. I did most of my growing up in New York City and taking public transportation was a huge part of my life. I think as early as 4th grade I was already taking the public bus to school on my own and in junior high and high school, I had to take two buses everyday to school. I have fond memories of me and my friends gallivanting all over the city with our free school bus passes. It’s a little shocking to me now as a mom to think of how much freedom I had back then as a kid.

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Waiting at the bus stop

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Sitting in “the caboose”

 

As the bus curved its way through downtown Berkeley, I looked out the window with my son and noticed things I had never seen before. Turner and I took turns pointing things out to each other, people we saw walking down the streets, things we saw in shop windows. Before we knew it, we were at our stop. I pressed the stop requested button and both of us hopped out the back door and took our time walking the four blocks to his preschool. He was as happy as a clam…and I was too. I don’t think I would trade in the convenience of a car for taking public transportation every day, but it was nice not to be the one behind the wheel for one morning. And it was also nice being able to share a slice of my childhood with my son.

 

 

 

 

 

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The prompt for this week is…

Willing

GO

Sometimes I think I’m getting a little too comfortable with my life here in Berkeley. A little too settled. If the Lord were to call me and my husband to pick up and move somewhere right now…in theory I’d like to think I’d be willing. I’d like to think that there would be the openness in my being to say “Amen” to the Lord or even to my husband. That’s in theory. In reality, I think there would be a lot of “But Lord…” and “What if…” instead of amens. In reality, I think it would involve a lot of tears and maybe even kicking and screaming to uproot me. So once in a while, the Lord will gently remind me that we are sojourners here…that like our father Abraham, we live a life of the altar and the tent. Everything we are and have needs to be placed on the altar, consecrated to God for His use. And our earthly dwelling can only be a tent, something so small and movable, not tied down to one place. That’s how Abraham and Sarah lived their whole lives and that’s how they taught their children to live. Their life of faith was one of having God’s appearing, building altars, and pitching their tents wherever God led them.

I recognize that I’m not there yet, that maybe I’m not so willing. But at least I can pray, “Lord, make me willing to be willing. Whether it’s here or there, I want to be rooted in You, not in any earthly place. I don’t want my comfort and convenience to dictate where I live, but that Your kingdom would govern where we pitch our earthly tent.” Like Abraham, we look forward to a better country, a heavenly one, and we eagerly wait for the city “which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10,16). Sounds like a much better place to be than Berkeley.

STOP

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With both my pregnancy with CC and this baby, I’ve had gestational diabetes during my last trimester. For those of you who don’t know what that means – basically the placenta produces hormones that block my body from producing enough insulin. Thankfully, I don’t have to take any medication, but it does mean no sweets and cutting back on carbs and having to prick my finger four times a day to test my blood sugar level. It’s really not as bad as it sounds, and for most women, the condition goes away once the baby is born.

Since this is my second time doing this, I’ve gotten pretty good about knowing what I can and can’t eat. I’m usually able to keep my blood sugar levels in good range when we’re eating at home (I recently found some wonderful GD friendly recipes here). Eating out, however, has proved to be a challenge. I’ve learned that Asian food makes my blood sugar spike really high (I think it’s all the sugar in the sauces) and of course, Italian is usually out of the question. So if we’re going out to eat nowadays, Indian and Latino restaurants are my safest bets. Which is why I’m so excited about two new places we’ve recently discovered.

The first place we kind of chanced upon by accident. After a trip to Costco, Larry and I couldn’t decide on a place to go for dinner and all the places we’ve been to in the area just didn’t appeal to us right then. As we were driving down San Pablo Avenue, we saw a place called Christopher’s Nothing Fancy Cafe. The only reason it caught our attention was because it was named Christopher’s. Nothing in the exterior gave a hint of even what kind of food they served, so we parked in front and Larry did a quick search on his phone. You would never guess from the name, but it’s actually a California Mexican restaurant and it got decent reviews, so we decided to give it try. I wasn’t that hungry so I just ordered one shrimp taco, expecting it to be a small taco taking up maybe half a plate. To my surprise the taco was huge and bursting with shrimp. I don’t remember what Larry ordered, but he was pretty happy with what he got too. The prices were decent and they also use mostly organic stuff. There were also tables outside in the back with a little water fountain which kept CC entertained.

The second place we found is a place right in our neighborhood. It’s an El Salvadorean place called Platano on University and Shattuck. We’ve walked past it many times and heard about it, but for some reason never thought about trying it. A couple of weeks ago though, I happened to overhear a mom at the YMCA tell another mom about how she loves that restaurant and that they have a little play area for kids in the back. Okay, so I’ll admit that’s the only reason I wanted to try it. Just the thought of being able to go out to dinner with my husband and not have to spend the whole time trying to keep CC in his high chair was appealing enough for me. Good food would just be a bonus.

So we decided to go to Platano last night for dinner and it did not disappoint us. The play area is nothing fancy, just a small couch and some chairs with a small coffee table in the back of the restaurant with some toys on it that they probably got from the Goodwill next door. But it kept CC happy and quiet for the 10-15 minutes that it took us to order and wait for the food, which by the way, was delicious. Larry and I split a carne asada and then ordered two pupusas. Dinner entrees are a bit pricey, but the portion was definitely big enough to share. During dinner, the owner actually came over and chatted with us…very pleasant guy. He gave us a dessert menu, all of which of course I would have loved to try but sadly couldn’t. By the time we left, he must have shaken hands with Larry at least 3 times. We promised to come again and I told him that after this baby is born, I would come and order the steak medium rare, some coffee, and dessert.

Even after all the rice and beans and corn tortillas I ate, my blood sugar that night was still fine. The 15 minute walk home might have helped too. I have a feeling we’ll be going to Platano a lot in the next two months.

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Last night after dinner, as I sat on the couch folding laundry looking at my husband doing the taxes at the dining table, I had a sudden realization of how blessed I truly am. It might not be most people’s picture of a perfect Sunday evening, but for me, I could not have been more content. Just to be at home, doing our ordinary mundane chores together, with our little boy sleeping happily in his room…nothing could have been more perfect.

Earlier that day we had taken CC for an hour and a half long stroll, with a short pit stop at La Farine bakery for a slice of hazelnut truffle tart. Neither of us had planned to be out that long, but we lost track of time because it was one of those days when we could afford to lose track of time. We simply enjoyed each other’s company while walking down College Avenue and took turns answering our inquisitive little boy, as he pointed at things and asked “What’s that?” every five seconds. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon.

We came home from our walk all happily exhausted. CC got dinner, a bath, and went straight to bed. Larry and I had boxed macaroni and cheese and hash browns for dinner and then went about our chores, preparing ourselves for yet another busy week ahead. I was in bed by 10pm.

Sometimes when the daily grind gets overwhelming, I feel like the answer is to get away from it all. I convince myself that in order to recharge, I “need” to get away to some faraway remote spa for a weekend. My realization while folding laundry last night reminded me that many times it’s the little things that help recharge us. It’s the long walks, the simple dinners, the clean laundry, the taxes finally finished. Maybe the answer isn’t to “get away from it all,” but to be right in the middle of it all…with the ones you love.

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Yesterday, CC and I attended our first Parent & Tot swim class with my mom friend Stacey and her son Elijah. It’s run by the Berkeley Aquatics program at the warm pool at Berkeley High School and you can just pay $6.50 for drop in instead of signing up for a whole session. We had great fun! I think CC would have had more fun if he hadn’t been so tired; next time I have to make sure he gets a good nap in before we go.

The class started off with introductions while in the pool — LOTS of moms and a few brave dads. CC adjusted great to the water. He had fun splashing and floating on his back and tummy, that is, until he accidentally gulped down some pool water. That resulted in some gagging and crying, but it didn’t last long. (FYI – If your child accidentally swallows water and starts gagging, you’re supposed to raise his arms. Apparently it helps to clear their throat.)

After introductions, we sang a bunch of songs with actions, which involved lifting the babies in and out of the pool, walking in circles and a lot of splashing. Half an hour into the class, I was already pooped and thankful that CC is as small as he is. I don’t know how the parents with the 20-30lb babies were able to last so long. I guess it’s a good way to get in a workout.

The class ended with the instructor scattering a whole bag of bath toys throughout the pool. While the babies went around grabbing toys, the parents walked around and socialized like at a cocktail party. All in all, it was a great experience and I think we’ll definitely go again next week. I get to meet new people and get some exercise and CC gets to splash to his heart’s content…not bad for $6.50. The sight of CC in his little swim diaper…priceless!

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