Plomin Family Bragablog

June 29, 2009

Second Week Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 1:39 am
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Eight weeks left with the NYC – DC commute for Matt.  I just sent him packing back to the Big Apple for another week a couple of hours ago.  We were lucky enough to have him home again this weekend. 

Ironically, I haven’t posted much about what happens during the week, and that’s because, well, nothing much happens.  Sure, Karol’s vocab is out of this world, and Patrick is chatting so much now he could have his own radio show, but for the most part we three just sit around here waiting for Matt to come back.  On occasion I’ll try to take the kids on some sort of outing – anything to get out of the apartment – but it generally just ends in tears (theirs or mine; it’s a toss-up) and a ruined bedtime routine.  The best days are the ones where we get home from work/play, eat dinner, have some free play and then read stories until bed.  Occasionally I’ll have the energy to stay up and do some housecleaning, but generally I go to sleep when they do.

The weekends are the exciting time for us.  Not only because that’s when Daddy’s home (although that’s at least 70% of it) but because we can plan activities in reasonable blocks of time.  This weekend we had a great Saturday: pancakes for breakfast, then out for a walk to the market and a picnic with lots of other kids and parents in the afternoon! 

Sunday we actually made it to Mass ON TIME.  We sat in what’s called “The Upper Room.”  It’s kind of like the cry room because it’s sealed off and the Mass is piped in on speakers, but it’s on the 2nd floor and is basically just overflow space.  It overlooks the entire congregation and the alter, like having a balcony seat to the Mass.  Karol behaved marvelously today, and really enjoyed watching the Mass from above.  Patrick slept for most of it, so I got to cuddle and squeeze him the whole time.  I actually got to hear the whole homily!  The rest of the day we spent pretty much in the apartment chilling out.

Here I am trying to catch a pic of Patty's new tooth.  It's barely a nub on the bottom front right.

Here I am trying to catch a pic of Patty's new tooth. It's barely a nub on the bottom front right.

In other news, Patrick is officially cutting teeth, and not thrilled about it.  I can tell it’s pretty uncomfortable and I just feel terrible for him.  He was struggling with it all day, and (stupid mommy) it wasn’t until tonight that I thought to give him any Tylenol to relieve it!  Finally though, after lots of feeding, a pacifier, getting wrapped tight, and turning on the ocean sound machine, he’s out.

Karol had the honor of licking the beater!  Well, Mommy helped...

Karol had the honor of licking the beater! Well, Mommy helped...

 

 

Karol and I had a wonderful time today baking up cupcakes for Matt to take to his office in NYC (don’t ask…or ask Matt, not me!)  Karol certainly likes to be a part of the action, and with my mediocre cooking skills, there’s very little chance she’ll make it any worse!  Actually we whipped up some awesome Irish coffee cake turned into cupcakes.  There was a fair amount of batter left over that pretty much became my dinner.  I feel pretty icky, so I’m regretting that now, however.  And yes, I had to thoroughly mop the floor tonight.

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June 22, 2009

One Week Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 4:13 pm
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Nine to go.  Last week was our first week with Matt away at New York.  As you can imagine, it was a little bit more of a struggle, but things went pretty well, for the most part.  Karol was noticeably missing him, though.  What’s worse is that she really can’t express her feelings yet, so it all just builds into an emotional breakdown for her.

But we got a pleasant surprise – Matt was able to come home for the Father’s Day weekend!  We were originally going to go up and visit him in NYC, but the car has been having problems, and it was tons easier (and cheaper) for Matt just to take the bus down.  We’re hoping to be able to do this most weekends.  

I can’t put into words the difference having Matt home made for Karol.  All I can say is that it was evident in her whole demeanor that she’s just not at ease without Daddy around, and she’s so contented and comfortable when he is.  

Karol and Matt on the metro.  Yes, she's totally a DC native.

Karol and Matt on the metro. Yes, she's totally a DC native.

We spent most of the weekend out and about, so next weekend I’m aiming to stay in most of the time and maybe utilize the lovely amenities at our apartment, like the pool.  That is, if Matt’s there.  I’m certainly not going to attempt to take the kids to the pool alone!

This morning was…rough.  Karol had a terrible time and was stalling leaving the house.  She wanted to cuddle and read, but not until it was time to leave, of course.  Once she got settled in at Lori’s, she was fine, but I hate seeing her so upset.  She was just terribly upset and I hate that I can’t fix it.  Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll wake her up early and try to get some extra mommy-time in and see if that helps.

So the week got off to a rocky start, to say the least.  Stay posted to find out how the rest of it goes!

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!

April 16, 2009

My Hubs is Amazing

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 5:37 pm
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I have to take a moment to give major credit to my wonderful husband Matt.  He has done at least 80% of all the packing, and is doing almost all the moving (hopefully) in one day today.  This is of course in addition to doing great in his schoolwork and being the best dad Karol and Patrick could ever hope for.  If you need further evidence of Matt’s daddy skills, just ask Karol.  This morning when I was getting her dressed, Matt walked in and she said “Yay, Daddy!” and insisted on him holding her before she put pants on.

April 15, 2009

The Family Bed

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 11:10 pm
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So this morning Matt had to be in downtown DC by 8 am.  We normally leave around then, so I told him to have fun taking the train!  I was extra tired because we went to bed late last night – we’re still boxing stuff up for tomorrow – and so when Patrick woke me up at 4:47 am, I was not really ready to move. I got him settled back to sleep and thought, I should just stay up and get some work done…What am I saying?  I only went to bed 4 hours ago!  So I curled back up with Matt, who, by the way, totally slept through Patrick’s little episode.  

At 5:42, Patty-poo stirred again.  He’s  way into sleeping and gets so frustrated when his little hands wake him up!  He refuses to even open his eyes, just struggles to go back to sleep.  This time I again thought I should get up; after all, my alarm was going to start at 6, but instead I just brought Patrick to bed with me (he’s been doing very well in his pack ‘n’ play recently though).

As Patrick and I snuggled up, I realized that Patrick wasn’t trying to wake me up.  He remembered Daddy had to leave early today!  So I woke Matt up and said something like ‘hey you should hop in the shower now, you have to leave early.’  He didn’t quite hop out of bed just then, though.  

Lucky for him, Karol woke up just after 6 and Matt went to go check on her.  She wasn’t ready to wake up (thank God) and so he brought her to bed too!  So the whole family of 4 was cozied up in bed together.  As soon as she was out again, Matt got up the will to go get ready, but I didn’t.  I decided since I wasn’t responsible for Matt getting in on time, we were going to sleep in!  And we did.  Matt did get out on time, I think, but not before snapping this photo:

The rest of us rolled out of bed around 7:45 and got out the door around 8:30 (not too terribly late, actually).  Sure, I was a little late to work, but no one noticed/cared.  The whole office is late and usually I’m actually there 1/2 hour before we’re open for business.  I figure being a punctuality rock star 80% of the time makes up for a day here and there of taking it slow.  

But after TOMORROW we will have a whole extra hour in the morning since our commute is gone!  We Matt is moving the vast majority of our stuff tomorrow in a U-Haul and then we’ll officially be Virginians!  We have the Silver Spring apartment until the end of the month, so we have plenty of time to clean and get the little things to the new place.  I CAN’T WAIT!!!

March 23, 2009

Matt’s Summer Plans

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcmom @ 4:03 pm
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I almost forgot to write a post about this, can you believe it???  Most of you already know, but in case you don’t, I wanted to catch you up on Matt’s BIG NEWS!

Matt had an interview for a summer internship in NYC with Deutsche Bank, and apparently they wanted him so badly, he didn’t even make it back to DC before they called to offer him the job!  He’ll be doing asset management in the Americas (don’t ask me what that really means).

This will be an AWESOME opportunity for Matt, but of course we will have to be apart for 10 weeks this summer (oh yeah, and the 2 weeks he’ll be in Turkey…over MOTHER’S DAY, no less!).  I’m (perhaps overly) optimistic that I will get along fine as a single mom for the summer, but I’m afraid Karol will have a rough time of it.  She is very attached to her Daddy.  Just this morning she was nearly overwhelmed with anxiety when he got out of the car to go to school this morning.  I’m not looking forward to her reaction to spending a couple weeks without seeing him at all!

As for me, I think I’ll be fine.  I’ll probably just work, work, work on school and the kids until he gets back.  Plus, we’ll be living right next to my work and Lori’s by then and I know I’ll have a lot of help from family while he’s away.  And there’s always Skype and G-Chat!

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