Plomin Family Bragablog

May 26, 2009

Patrick’s Catholic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 3:19 pm
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Yay!  I’m always so happy when the baptism is done.  My excitement over the awesomeness of the upcoming dedication is always overshadowed by the anxiety I feel that for some reason they will tell me ‘I’m sorry, we’re not doing baptisms today, you flew out here for no reason.’  You see, I went in March to fill out the paperwork to have Patrick baptized, and asked if they would for sure be having the baptism on Memorial Day weekend.  I pretty much just got a blank stare in response.  The same thing happened with Karol, who was baptized the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  

Anyway, Patrick did indeed get baptized.  Yay!  

 

Patrick in His Baptismal Gown

Patrick in His Baptismal Gown

 

 

We also got to spend a nice long weekend with the Plomin side of the family.  We are working on getting Karol to say “Grandma,” but R’s are really hard for her.  My Mom, who was originally going to be ‘Granny’ has ended up ‘Gee Gee.’  And the best we’ve gotten so far for Matt’s mom is ‘Mimu!’  That came from a conversation that went kind of like this:

Jill: “Karol, who’s that?” (pointing to Carol Plomin)

Karol: Blank stare.

Jill:  “Karol, can you say ‘Grandma?'”

Karol: Blank stare.

Jill:  “How about ‘Mamaw?’ Can you say ‘Mamaw?”

Karol: “….Mi…mu!”

I think what will end up happening is that Karol’s Great-Grandma Ammerman will end up being “Grandma.”  Since Matt, Abby and I all call her that, whenever I say something like “Oh, go show Grandma!” Karol runs after who we call Grandma!

Despite the remodel changing things up a bit, Karol still feels right at home at Grandma & Grandpa Plomin’s.  And there’s so much room to run around!  Patrick got a lot of much needed face time with both Grandma and Grandpa and I anticipate he’ll be crawling through the house after Karol by the time we come back in August.

Speaking of which, we are getting SO excited for Aunt Abby and Uncle Colin’s wedding in August!  Karol will be serving as flower girl.  Poor Aunt Abby didn’t get a moment’s rest this weekend, because she’s Karol’s favorite playmate!  We were so, so thrilled that she could be with us, though, and had bunches of fun treasure hunting at Abby & Colin’s pirate-theme Gourmet Club bridal shower!

Gosh, we did a lot this weekend!  Now it’s time to get busy with the work of preparing for Matt to leave for NYC.  I’m working on a very, very long honey-do list, as we’re still not really fully set up at the new apartment, and Matt’s absorbing as much quality time with the kids as possible.  I’m kind of dreading him being gone.  10% because I will miss him sharing the parenting work, and 90% just because we will miss him so much.  Hopefully we’ll get to see each other often.  I guess we’ll see!  Please keep us in your prayers for the next 12 weeks or so as we push through the summer apart.

Patrick's Family

Patrick's Family

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May 20, 2009

Army ATX

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 10:34 pm
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I haven’t posted in a while because I was at my Annual Training Exercise (ATX) for the Army Reserves.  Since Matt is in Turkey, I asked my mom to fly out and watch the babies for me.  It was a great opportunity for her to get to spend time with them, especially Patrick, who she hasn’t really had a chance to bond with until now.

Typically, ATXes are not as strenuous as this one was.  And really, it was for no reason.  Just poor planning, I guess.  I’ll spare you the details, but in retrospect, it was a really dumb idea for me to try to attend at all.  I could have told them months ago that it just wasn’t logistically feasible and I’d make it up at Ft. Meade, but I wanted to be Army Strong, I wanted to fulfill my duty, blah, blah, blah.  It was just stupid to put myself (and my kids) through all that.  Hindsight is 20/20 though.

Anyway, I wanted to upload a few pictures since it’s been a few days.  Here’s me, at the range, after qualifying with the M-16.  This was probably the one positive part of the ATX for me.

 Jill on the range

And here’s Patrick and Karol.  This is pretty much how they looked when I left in the morning and how they looked when I got back at night.

Karol SleepingPat sleeping

May 12, 2009

My Mother’s Day Angels

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 12:34 pm
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Karol and Patrick were perfect angels for me for most of the Mass at what will probably be our new Church, St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington.  I really liked the atmosphere, as there were plenty of families with children Karol’s age.  I got there a little late and the place was standing room only – 9am is a popular Mass time apparently.  

I saw there was a cry room so I made a beeline for it.  I’m usually anti-cry room, but with no Matt and an unpredictable toddler, I thought I’d rather be safe than sorry.  The cry room is at the back of the Church with huge windows.  You can see straight in and straight out.  To my surprise, the children in there were actually very well behaved.  There were some sitting on laps and others quietly playing with toys.  

Then I realized why they were so behaved — the windows.  Just because the people outside can’t hear your children, they can still see them, so parents still had to be accountable.  Matt and I hated the cry room at St. Michael’s because if there were other kids in there the parents just let them loose and ignored them.  Not cool.

After Mass I wanted to do something extra special with my kids, since it was Mother’s Day and all.  So we went to Georgetown.  At first I almost turned around and went home because of course there was zero parking available, but then I remembered a tucked away spot a couple blocks toward the river I’d found out about while making a video for work.  Yay, free parking and there’s one spot open!  

So I wrestled the monster double stroller out of the trunk and the three of us went on a walk on the boardwalk along the Potomac.  It was beautiful!  Here are an example to show you what I mean.

 STP80077

We walked all the way up to the Washington Harbor, halfway back, and then over to Georgetown.  I thought I would want to “shop,” but there was no way I was going to maneuver that massive stroller in and out of those tiny doorways, especially since I was only half-hearted about buying anything anyway.  I spotted a Ben & Jerry’s and thought that would be a treat for all of us!  So Karol and I got some ice cream and went back to the Potomac to eat it.  

 

STP80090

After that we walked down the River again and back to the car.  This time, Karol walked.  And boy did she throw a royal fit when she realized we weren’t staying – but before that, I got this super sweet picture of her watching the water.

 Karol Water

Patrick was like this the entire trip:

 Pat Sleeping

So we headed home, had lunch, and a half hour nap – that’s right, too many catnaps in the car and stroller, none of which is really quality sleep – and read a few books.  Then we went for a walk around our neighborhood – Karol on foot and Patrick on the Bjorn.  Karol was getting tired and whiny until she saw the playground.  All of a sudden it went from whine, whine, to “SLIDES!!”  And she took off running!  Well, Karol running is just a brisk walk for me, but you get the idea.  

So we spent a full hour at the playground.  Karol did a lot of new stuff.  I’m really amazed at how much she’s capable of, physically and mentally.  She was climbing stairs, climbing up the slides without help.  She even went down the big curly slide all by herself!  That took more bravery on my part.  It’s very hard for me to stand back and just let her play, but as I get more comfortable with the surroundings, and more confident in her abilities, I’m starting to let her run free a little bit.  

Oh, I should note for Matt’s sake – she saw a lovely pink and purple bike with training wheels that she now desperately wants.  I told her that would be Daddy’s department and she needed to talk to him.  So there you go Matt.

After about an hour, Karol voluntarily (after I suggested watching Elmo and taking a bath – 2 of Karol’s favorite activities) left the park.  THAT’S how tired she was!  By 6:30, she was asleep on the couch. 

It didn’t last long though, she still needed to eat dinner and go through the bedtime rituals.  She really went to sleep around 8:30.  Patrick was out around 8, but I kept holding him because he’s just so cuddly and sweet.  After writing an email to Matt, I had to call it a night by 10.

I know it sounds stressful taking care of two babies under two years old all by myself – and it is – but I just loved spending the whole weekend with them.  I can’t imagine a better Mother’s Day. 

We are getting into a rhythm as ‘the three of us’ for now.  I will be so happy when Matt comes home though.  I don’t even want to think about how hard it will be – emotionally, that is – while he’s away.  This weekend aside, the days kind of drag without him here.  And though Karol hasn’t shown any signs of distress, she had a little trouble sleeping last night, and I just wonder if that’s because of the adjustment. 

Ah, well, on that note, I’ll leave you with this:

STP80107

May 10, 2009

Istanbul Update #3

Filed under: Uncategorized — mplomin @ 9:28 pm
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Dispatch from Turkey 3

So far, I’ve been able to post whenever we get a break in the trip schedule. It’s a little past midnight here, and I wanted to get one more quick post in for the day. Tomorrow, we start visiting clients and presenting our research findings and recommendations, so I may not be able to get so much posting done from here on out.

We’ll be in Istanbul for a few more days, and then it’s off to Bursa. Bursa is the fabric center of Turkey, is smaller and less touristic than Istanbul, and probably has better prices tourist-type gifty things.  It’s the end of the old “silk road” trading route from the “east” to Europe.  It became a large silk producing region when some priests smuggled back silkworms from China, and they’ve been top of the world in silk production ever since.  I have identified a few places that I can get a suit tailored, but I’m thinking Bursa may be a better place to get a suit, and a better value too (since it’s off the beaten path).  I’ll talk to some of the Turkish people who came with us and see what they think.

As for Turkish hospitality, it’s legendary, almost to a fault.  The people in the shops here are very nice, but they’ve got that middle-eastern hustle to them.  Both last night and tonight, a large group of us went out to a nearby street – Istaklil Street (Independence Street) – and we did a little tourism.  The street was awesome – closed to cars and pedestrian-only, it was completely packed with people.  It seemed like Mardi Gras, but without the debauchery.  We must have been the biggest “marks” because in front of every store and restaurant, a guy was standing in the street trying to usher our big group into their place.

Initially, we were broken into a few groups of 6 or 7 each, and then we met up later.  Off of the main street, there were bunches of alleys with outdoor dining. My small group ducked down one of these alleys and sat down for a beer and some people watching.  We did the same thing tonight, but this time we shared a hookah and played a few games of backgammon.  I’m interested in trying the Turkish coffee, but I haven’t been able to yet.  It was pretty cool just being a part of the landscape here.

So, after the on-street dining, we met up and as a large group we found a restaurant.  We went up to an upper room, and we did something kinda foolish.  Instead of ordering off the menu, the owner said that he’d just bring us a selection of traditional Turkish foods.  We got some great stuff – three courses and some local beer, but we didn’t talk about price.  Then we got the bill – TL40, abut $27, each.  From a street vendor, we could have gotten a similar meal for about $10, I’m guessing.  We won’t make that mistake twice.

I’m headed off to bed now.  I’ll try and post again tomorrow night, but we’ll be on the road all day and I’m not sure how much time I’m going to have.  Until next time . . .

Istanbul Update 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — mplomin @ 3:20 pm
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Dispatch from Istanbul 2

When we left the airport and took a bus to the hotel, we were able to see a variety of sights.  Initially, we drove through some of the rougher neighborhoods (maybe it’s harder to sell real estate near the airport).  But pretty soon, we were on the main coastal road in Istanbul.  Traffic here is unbelievable.  There’s some degree of order, but it’s mostly organized chaos.  We have a couple of Indians on the trip and they observed that driving in Istanbul traffic is nothing close to driving in India.  I’d say it is more like Sao Paulo or New York traffic than anything else.  Like in Sao Paulo, there are only a few roads to get from one side of the city to another in Istanbul.  So, it’s the only street that everyone is taking, and it’s not a real highway.  Bicycles, motorbikes, cars, buses, heavy machinery, and semis all share the same road.  Thankfully, there are a few pedestrian overpasses to get from one side of the street to the other.

On the one side of the street, there were those 6-story buildings I mentioned earlier.  On the other, was the ocean.  Between the street and the ocean, though, there were lots of public parks.  And it seemed that under every tree there was a picnic.  No – more than a picnic, it was more like a football tailgate.  Like in the US, it’s Mother’s Day weekend here.  So perhaps there were more people than normal enjoying family time in the park, but there were many more people at the park here than you would ever expect to see at the park in the US.  Even in park-happy Chicago, rarely is every tree occupied.

The families were multi-generational, too.  So many times, I saw a mother, father, kids, and grandparents all together in the same picnic.  Often, there were a few families sharing the tree’s shade, and I assume these were aunts and uncles and cousins.  More than being a geographic crossroads between modern Europe and tradition-rich Middle East, Turkey combines modern and traditional elements in interesting ways. Multi-generational family outings is another interesting take on this Turkish crossroads.  The people here are on average wealthy enough to move out from their parents’ homes and set up shop on their own when they get married.  However, I can see that the family is a very important part of life in Turkey.

Of course, the kids were kicking around soccer balls.  But I also saw a few people throwing rugby balls, frisbees, and even someone playing volleyball.  There were fenced-in basketball courts like you see in the US parks, too.  In some of them, the basketball rims had been ripped down and the kids were playing soccer inside them instead.  I guess this fenced-in soccer uses a smaller ball and has rules similar to indoor soccer, and it’s wildly popular in places with limited outdoor space (like Japan).

Every time I think about the families and kids here, I wish Jillian, Karol, and Patrick could have come.  Jill and I are always a little nervous about the idea of taking the kids on trips, especially abroad, but I think Turkey is the kind of country that the kids would be safe in.  If they’d enjoy it is another matter altogether, but I think there’s not much risk of their being kidnapped or hurt.  The water here is questionable, but not like El Salvador.  And there’s no real chance of war (like Mexico).

Time to leave for our dinner reservation.  More to come . . .

Dispatch from Istanbul

Filed under: Uncategorized — mplomin @ 8:59 am
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Hi all – Matt here.

Part of my classwork here in Istanbul is a trip journal of sorts. I brought the 1080P HD video camera, others brought podcasting equipment, a few people have video blogging cameras, and everyone has digital cameras. Also, a few key people are participating in this trip – the GW MBA Association’s VP and the MBA Follies writers are here. Plus, we’re connected with a LARGE network of alumni in Turkey. (The Dean is Turkish too, so it helps.) The GW MBA Office recognized these capabilities and is making the Turkey trip the featured International Residency for PR purposes. So, each of our reflections are going to provide rich materials for their communications department. I figured all of you should be the first to read my reflections, so here they go up on wordpress!

The flights here were grueling. Luckily, I was on the same flight as a few other students. We managed to get the people on the plane to re-arrange seating so we were all close by. I had a window seat, Brendan (one of my classmates) had the aisle seat, and the 500-pound guy who would normally sit next to me never showed up, so the middle-seat was open (what luck!). Everything was fine until, during take-off, a light stream of water started pouring on me from the overhead compartment. We were already all strapped in, so there was no moving to the middle seat, and I had to just endure the light drizzle until we leveled off. The flight attendants were pretty understanding, and they helped me towel off and get more comfortable. When we came into Paris, I tried to see the Eiffel Tower or some other Parisian sights, but I couldn’t see anything. From the air at night, Paris looks exactly like every other city I’ve ever flown to.

Brendan and I bought some duty-free rum with the intention of having a few drinks and getting to sleep early. But we never got around to it; we watched movies (Frost/Nixon and James Bond – Quantum of Solace, both excellent movies) and talked until we landed in Paris at 5am (11pm Eastern). We managed to get some sleep at the airport. Brendan, being a former Americorps worker and accustomed to uncomfortable accommodations, was fine just sleeping on the airport floor. The Parisians who passed by thought he was a little odd. I explained “He was fine a couple of days ago when we left Mexico, I don’t know what’s wrong with him now . . .” and people gave us quite a bit of space.

A few other students met up with us in Paris, so nine of us flew together to Istanbul. That flight was a little more subdued, and we were able to catch up on some sleep during the second leg. Again, the middle seat was open so I had a little more space.

Flying into Istanbul, the first thing I saw was a mess of container ships in the sea. I didn’t notice at the time, but later I noticed that they were nearly all empty and anchored, nothing to ship and nowhere to go – a sign of the tough economic times worldwide. Istanbul is a very low city. I was expecting to see a city-center with skyscrapers or at least a few tall hotels and office buildings. There are maybe three or four buildings that are taller than six stories. The entire city is made of stucco buildings, six stories tall, with tile roofs. As far as you can see, it’s just these low mixed-use buildings – apartments and offices on top, retail at the street level. No single-family houses either.

And sticking out from this low, six-story city are tall Minarets, four per Mosque. These spires are like Rapunzel’s tower, tall spikes with balconies on the top floor, are where Imams sing the call to prayer from. The humans, standing and screaming from the Minarets, were long ago replaced by loudspeakers. Mosques in Istanbul are as dense as Starbucks in Chicago, and I wondered if the call to prayer would be centralized and uniform across the city. It’s not. From our hotel balcony, we can hear the call to prayer five times a day from the nearby Mosques. Each Mosque issues the call a few seconds apart from the others, and it’s a duel of sorts – a Muslim “dueling banjos” – back and forth, one trying to out-do the other. It’s quite eerie and beautiful at the same time.

We’ve been told that Turkey is a modern, moderate Muslim nation, and we’re experiencing a bit of that modernity.  Ordinarily, in a Muslim nation, when the call to prayer is issued, everything stops and people in the street pull out their prayer mats and drop to their knees in prayer.  Last night when we were out, we heard the call and nothing really stopped. It was a little odd; I could hear some people whistling (a sign of derision) and others hollering to get people to stop and pray.  But generally, people didn’t stop and pray.

It seems that modern decadence has taken its toll on religion worldwide, not just in Christian Europe.  Perhaps the fact that people didn’t stop and pray is just a result of their commitment to living a secular lifestyle, but I was a little disappointed to see that people here aren’t so rigorous in their observation.  I’m probably wrong to assume that, since people don’t observe the five daily prayers, they also aren’t devoted to God in their own way.  And who am I to equate the seeming non-observation of the call to prayer is indicative of a lack of religious fervor.  Like public prayer in the US, maybe overt public prayer here is stigmatized.  Perhaps Turkey is a Muslim nation in the same way the US is a Christian nation – founded on religious principles, very protective of the right to observe, and individualistic in religious observation.

I’ll be back with more observations from Turkey as the trip progresses.  Comment with questions, and I’ll try to get to as many as I can.

Lonely

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 1:56 am
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Matt left Friday for Turkey.  It’s almost 10pm here now, which means it’s like 5am there.  Surprisingly we’ve already talked a couple of times, but we’re trying not to do too much phone since it’s super expensive. 

The kids are doing really well.  Karol hasn’t really noticed yet that Matt hasn’t been home, but at the mere mention of him her face lights up and she gives a breathy “Daddy!”  It’s so cute.  We were hoping to be able to skype, but I guess Matt’s internet connection is pretty bad at the hotel they are at.  Maybe it’s just as well.  Whenever we skype with Daddy or Granny, Karol thinks that all she has to do is open the computer and they will just be there, whenever she wants.  Then she’s disappointed when they aren’t. 

We actually are doing pretty good so far.  I haven’t lost my mind yet, so that’s great, as far as I can tell.  We went to the Reston Zoo today, which was GREAT.  I was totally prepared.  I brought the Baby Bjorn, Karol’s monkey leash, the double stroller (which I had to rearrange the entire car to do — we need an SUV ASAP), the directions to the Zoo, an entire lunch, shoes and socks, in case Karol’s sandals rubbed her feet raw…I brought everything we could possibly need, and then left the camera sitting on the kitchen table.  I really wanted to kick myself for that.  Arg!  But the zoo was so awesome I would mind going back soon to recreate the experience and get a few pics to share with you all.

I would normally stay up pretty late on a Saturday night, but that’s pretty depressing to do all by myself, so I think I’ll head off to bed.  I have one more assignment to do for this week (started a new class this week) and then it’s lights out.

May 5, 2009

Ready or Not-Here Comes the Future

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 2:32 pm
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We are 3 short days away from Matt’s trip to Turkey, and just thinking about it makes me a little queasy!  It’s not just that he’s going to be gone for 2 weeks, it’s that on top of that, Karol, Patrick, Granny (thank God) and I are all going up to Pennsylvania in the middle of that 2 weeks.  This is the one area where formula feeding really is easier – when I have to be gone.  I have to take off time from work, be in the car for 3 hours with 2 babies (twice) and while my Mom and the kids are having a blast at Hershey Park, I’ll be at Fort Indiantown Gap doing an SRP, weapons qualification, and all sorts of brush-ups on Warrior Training Tasks.  Some fun, some tedious, all stressful.  

I soon as Matt gets back, we are flying home to Indiana (yay!) for Patrick’s baptism.  He will practically step off the plan from Turkey and step right on the plane for Indiana.  That Memorial Day weekend will be too brief a visit and then we’re back in Arlington, I’m back to work, and Matt will have 3 short weeks before his internship in NYC starts.  I don’t even wanna think about what happens after that!

Patrick’s New Toy

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 2:10 pm
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Patrick hasn’t shown a lot of interest in toys yet, and I’m not surprised or worried about that – he’s still very young and quite content to play with his own hands.  But Grandma and Grandpa Plomin sent a toy for Easter he’s grown especially fond of.  It’s a cartoon character sea horse (I don’t know what show) that lights up and plays music like a glow worm.  Yesterday he fell asleep with it.  It’s pretty sensitive so if he moves around he can turn it on himself.  I’ll put it in his swing with him and he just sits and listens/watches with a look of contentedness awe.  I caught him cuddling with it this morning:

 

Patrick and His Glow Thing

Patrick and His Glow Thing

 

Patrick Staring Me Down

Patrick Staring Me Down

Little Miss Virginia

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 2:01 pm
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Well Karol is undoubtedly my daughter.  I did her hair this morning and like we usually do, I said “Oo, look at Karol’s pretty hair!” and Matt says “Ooo, so pretty!!”  Today, though, Karol’s reaction was especially narcissistic – she had a huge grin on her face that said ‘I know I’m gorgeous!’  I wish I’d captured her crunched-up nose toothy grin, but I did get a few ham shots.  In one of these she looks like she’s upset – don’t let that fool you – she was totally playing it up for the camera.  You can tell by the way she’s laughing in all the other pics!

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